The State of Cloud Computing

 

By Vincent Capasso

 

As the president in his State of the Union Speech has just spoken about how the infrastructure of the US is crumbling around us I think now is a good time to take a quick look at the competitive landscape of Cloud Computing and examine the state of various cloud infrastructures. 


It has taken several years, but the economics of cloud computing are now low lying fruit for CIOs to embrace. Any doubts they had about moving at least some corporate data to an outside cloud storage provider seems to have gone away in the last quarter or two.Who are the primary cloud vendors and how are their solutions benefiting global corporations?


We recently reported how OpenStack is positioning itself to be a cloud disruptor in a big way.

 

 

OpenStack
Openstack is a global collaboration of developers and cloud computing technologists producing an open source cloud computing platform for deployment as a public or private cloud. The OpenStack platform was originally formed by the partnership of Rackspace and NASA. It is comprised of nearly 5,000 open source contributions and is now beginning to change the on-demand computing environment in a significant way. The project aims to deliver solutions for all types of clouds by being simple to implement, massively scalable, and feature rich.

 

The technology consists of a series of interrelated projects delivering various components for a cloud infrastructure solution. OpenStack is currently driving change in the world of cloud computing as many smaller companies look to build their own clouds, this is rapidly becoming their most cost effective cloud solution. Pay attention to them as they build momentum.


IBM

IBM has been a front runner in global deployment of cloud solutions for their customers for more than a decade. They just have not spoken openly about it until more recently. The IBM set of cloud options are largely driven by their well entrenched mainframe architecture.


IBM rarely talks about the hardware component of its cloud solution. They do not need to. They have been quietly approaching cloud computing more from their software initiatives. Their recent quarterly earnings results back this up as the contributing margins from software helped to drive the overall margins to 44%, up from 40% in the previous quarter.


They have Tivoli at the center of their software architecture and construct a software umbrella so that you can move any app on any platform in the data center now and put all or part of it in a public or private cloud.


IBM’s 2010 acquisition of Cast Iron also give them an appliance that allows customers the option to integrate in-house apps with SaaS applications running outside. This brings them a powerful combination capability in their integration efforts.IBM's cloud strategy is not focused on smaller businesses, they are leaving that segment now to Amazon and in house deployments of OpenStack.
For existing IBM data centers the IBM cloud solution is the only real implementation option. IBM has beaten Microsoft in the vendor lock-in game but have remained relatively untarnished for doing so.

 

Amazon
Amazon Web Services (AWS) are extremely flexible are the leader in the public cloud space. AWS suffered a couple of large outages in 2011 with an embarrassing four-day outage in April and then a widespread reboot glitch later in the year.


The April outage was due to poor implementation and network build out. Amazon has since built in some more redundancy to help prevent similar future outages. Many CIOs remember the event but are quick to forgive as they recognize that you pay significantly more for 99.99% uptime and availability then you do for 99.90% uptime.


Amazon is the leader in public cloud power and most likely retain that position for the near future.


Microsoft Azure
Windows Azure, the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) underlying Microsoft’s cloud strategy, has seen mixed results to date.
The perception of Azure as a closed platform has hindered adoption rates. Microsoft’s single biggest problem is customer suspicion that it will use Azure to lock them into the next generation of Microsoft technologies, essentially replacing the Windows/Office upgrade cycle.


The reality of Azure though is that the technology is solid and, unlike previous Microsoft development technologies, forces developers to follow the rules. They can’t design software services that misbehave. 


Azure is extremely powerful and if Microsoft can contine to spread the word organizations will try it and their adoption rates will continue to grow. Right now though they have a lot of convincing to do to win back customers from AWS. As a CIO how will you realize more value out of your old data? The cloud is a great starting point.

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Bill has been a member of the technology and publishing industries for more than 25 years and brings extensive expertise to the roles of CEO, CIO, and Executive Editor. Most recently, Bill was COO and Co-Founder of CIOZone.com and the parent company PSN Inc. Previously, Bill held the position of CTO of both Wiseads New Media and About.com.

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