But it was obvious that Gartner is placing its bets on a few technology companies — namely Microsoft and VMware — as the contenders for the title of top cloud-computing vendor.
More specifically, the two vendors are in prime positions to become leaders in the enterprise and cloud computing space, Smith said, adding that they are not “shoo-ins”; they just have more comprehensive offerings than some of the other players.
“The two are perceived already as leaders in cloud services and enterprise software and systems,” he said. “Both are well entrenched in the enterprise — VMware with its virtualization software, and Microsoft with SQL Server, Exchange and other things. Both are by far the most aggressive in terms of moving to a cloud services model.”
Smith categorized potential leaders based on the types of cloud services they offer, including Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS); whether they are a cloud services “enabler” or “provider” (more on what that means below); and whether they offer public or private cloud services.
Here’s Smith’s take on where some cloud computing vendors stand, in no particular order:
“Overall, VMware has a good strategy that is bringing the company beyond infrastructure. They are much more complicated and visionary now — if you haven’t paid attention to them in the last couple years, significantly moving beyond their virtualization roots,” Smith said.
“Amazon is perceived as the pioneer in cloud,” Smith said. “You bring your own [technology] to this [Amazon cloud] world, and are responsible for everything above the bare metal, such as for the OS and middleware. That’s what makes them different from others offering a higher-level IaaS model.”
IBM and Hewlett-Packard:
“Hewlett-Packard mirrors IBM in many ways, but is a year or so behind them,” Smith said.
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Progressive enterprises are envisioning what their IT operations will look like in a world of increasing cloud service use, which was “highly unusual a year ago,” Pring said. As a result, Gartner is “seeing an explosion of supply-side activity, as technology providers maneuver to exploit the growing commercial opportunity.” There’s no doubt: With a forecast like that, cloud services is clearly a business to be in.
But — and it’s a big but — if we put those numbers on Gartner’s own hype cycle, the industry will soon teeter at the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” (the highest point on Gartner’s hype cycle new-technology adoption curve) And if the model proves true, 2015 looks like it may see a financial slide into the “Trough of Disillusionment” (the lowest point on the curve, directly following the high), perhaps owing to persistent data breaches and the associated financial liability for interruptions in the cloud that prove beyond one’s control.
So, what should an enterprise do if a provider goes down? Sue the provider, advised Robert Parisi, senior vice president and cybermedia product leader for Marsh Inc., an insurance provider in New York. Where lots of experts see grey, he sees black and white: “If you render the service and you fail to render it, and it causes direct physical or financial harm, that’s your responsibility,” he said.
Community clouds are forming to provide more assurances to customers in particular industries — financial and healthcare, mainly, said Tanya Forsheit, founder of the InfoLawGroup in Los Angeles. Perhaps these will populate the “Slope of Enlightment,” (the upswing in the hype cycle curve, following the Trough of Disillusionment), where interest begins to build again as cloud providers “compete to provide better security, privacy and better assumption of liability at a price — of course, at a price,” she said.
Over the course of the next five years, enterprises will drop $112 billion on Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) combined, Gartner estimates. Financial services and manufacturing are leading the spend, followed by communications and high-tech industries. The public sector also is clearly interested in the potential of cloud services, driven by a federal government administration that has all but washed its hands clean of owning data centers.
The trend to cloud adoption can be attributed in part to financial turbulence over the last 18 months, but more fundamentally to the challenges of managing complex, custom, expensive IT solutions in-house, Pring said, “while cloud computing services have matured to become more appropriate and attractive to all types of enterprises.”
However, “many enterprises may be examining cloud computing and cloud services, but are far from convinced that it is appropriate for their requirements,” Pring said. He sees this as an opportunity for traditional outsourcing providers to retool their offerings into utility-based cloud services, while others wonder how the deeper issue of shared liability will be resolved.
Only then will we all be able to relax on the “Plateau of Productivity” (when the technology is mature on the hype cycle).]]>