Firstly, I have not managed to finish this post. It was only meant to be a quick run down which has just got bigger the more I am thinking about this. Anyway, it’s not a deep technical view more of a pull it into a single page who are the main players and some wildcats. So in no particular order -Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Salesforce, Acadia (Cisco, EMC, VMWare tie up). I have also looked at Facebook – interesting spin? and one who I am sure is waiting in the sidelines, Apple.
Who really understands the cloud? It means different things to different people as it still lacks real definition for the mass market. If you work in the tech space, it’s the most discussed topic of the moment.
I am an applications guy and develop new business off the back of solving problems for the end user, bringing together the whole desktop and mobile experience using communications technologies to bridge the gap. I like to build software (yes, this includes voice now:) ) put some great service behind it and see the end user benefit, this is what makes me tick. To me managed services, SaaS and now Cloud computing make absolute sense in most cases – note the ‘most’ cases and not all – the stuff I do would not be possible.
To me SaaS and Cloud computing solves some really big challenges we face as individuals whether at work or in our home lives. It enables us to utilise smarter applications, to share information and be connected where ever we may be plus it makes strong commercial sense in a business at many levels.
Without ‘SaaS’ or ‘Cloud’ we would never have had Facebook or XBox Live or even email for that matter. To me, the cloud provides us with huge opportunity and enables the technology community to innovate and deliver increasingly more cost efficient, creative and hugely valuable software whether it be at work whilst we are on our BlackBerry, watching TV on at home or playing our PlayStation.
In its simplest sense it’s an umbrella term encompassing lots of different technologies but all using the internet to unleash and extend the potential of the internet – simple Then you run into SaaS, PaaS, IaaS – arghh acronyms – actually they do make sense to me, I just hate the buzz.
Outside of the tech space, i.e the people who we are creating value for have even less of an idea what it’s all about. They are at the mercy of the global marketing machines who are in guerrilla warfare mode, each of them touting the others weakness and why their vision of the world as it will be is the best. We all know in reality, it’s impossible to tell what the future of the cloud holds but one thing is fact – the rich technology and limitless connectivity is going to change the world for the better we hope.
Anyway, I am not a deep technical guy so don’t expect the detail here but I have been putting together the players to watch in the industry – players who can deliver you a cloud – there are some radical differences between them, some offering end user applications, others platforms for armies of software developers , time based usage ……. A little bit of commentary and some links to reference.
Started in search and owned the market – everything became Google. They needed a strategy and to build out their value – what did they have lots of – people using their search engine and ad services, spare computing power and local connectivity – all importantly pots of cash. It’s a young business with a paradigm breaking mentality – they could never start to create ‘local’ software applications and services – it had to be the cloud, so they have innovated, built and delivered a truly impressive portfolio – browser, apps, operating systems. Ingenious.
I think we all know that Google provide email and to furnish the value around this they enable you to collaborate on documents, instant message your colleagues / friends and use key desktop applications such as a word processor, spreadsheet etc. They have started to venture into the world of voice – I suppose you look at it as an office in a browser, highly portable wherever you have an internet connection at either your desktop, laptop or smart phone – well anything with a web browser. Everything is kept in their cloud – your email, documents, chat.
Google also push their app engine where you can develop, host and deliver your applications as long as they are written in JAVA or Python. So they state SQL databases later this year – interesting.
I suppose the unsung pioneers of the cloud. Which ever way we look at it, Amazon have built a quality offering and pioneered this phase of the utility computing space. The executives in Amazon have been sensible not getting involved in the ‘bloodbath’ that we have seen and will get worse.
They major on their reliability and ability to provide ‘compute’ resources in the cloud – look at it as a highly scalable data centre that even back office developers can use. The whole elastic concept is that the environment grows in various dimensions dependent on either the demands at that point in time (i.e traffic spikes) or where your business is naturally scaling up or down. You can provision and boot new server instances in minutes – very cool, erm clever also in the elastic concept is obviously processing power, storage, load balancing and a whole host of other goodies. S3 is the storage element of the Amazon model – same principle, safe secure storage – you pay for what you use.
Importantly, very sensible moves as there is a tie up with both Microsoft and IBM – running their environments in the Amazon cloud – Bring your developer, developers, developers.
Microsoft is the one that I am most comfortable with as a platform- I have worked with it for years, hence I am going to have some bias influenced in parts by the many software developers who have worked with me who ‘swear’ by Microsoft.
It’s a tricky one – everyone has been attacking Microsoft using the ‘cloud’ or on-line services. The reason is simple because no-one can touch them in the ‘on premise’ world from a server / application perspective. I suppose the google, salesforce, amazon thing was bound to happen.
That said, Microsoft have the opportunity to deal some really heavy blows in this space. I know from experience that they have been working hard to get their entire portfolio into a multi-tenant state – what is needed for hosting or cloud models. More recently with launches of BPOS – delivering standard business applications like exchange, sharepoint, office communicator as a hosted service to the market has clearly started to position their offerings. Equally, they have built up the capability around the consumer space with officelive, bing, maps etc etc I think the launch of Office 2010 on-line is going to be a big win.
Microsoft just needs to get its mobile strategy right – it has to.
Anyway, Microsoft delivers Azure – a cloud computing environment for running applications and database services. Its a more of a platform than an infrastructure play – full of value based upon the .NET Framework
Microsoft can create a real big win here on various fronts -
- Developers – it has the best development environment (visual studio) available by a long shot, its had years to build a community and refine the tool sets – they must bring that developer community into play
- Business – BPOS is clearly a great service for small business. In my view it ‘kills’ google for sheer quality, service and importantly PRIVACY.
- Enterprise – They have the software tool sets to enable enterprises, carriers and other service providers run their own clouds and virtual datacentres.
- Consumer – With the XBOX live network, Microsoft TV and tie up’s with Sky media, the cloud is sure to be a defining place.
My view is that there is no one who can deliver services across every aspect of our lives – Microsoft just needs to get its message right, drive the market and get its mobile story sorted. On this note, I am going to do a separate post on this topic.
I am going to publish this now folks – the others I am going to add to the list are IBM, HP, Cisco and the dark horse who I am sure is going to come to the table – Apple. Equally, dropping a few others in like Facebook.
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