Welcome!

@BigDataExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Bob Gourley, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Cloud Wars – How Many 800lb Gorillas Can Fit in the Room?

In their latest magic quadrant report on IaaS, Gartner describes the market as still evolving and maturing

There is a common phrase, often attributed as a Chinese proverb/curse, "May you live in interesting times." For those following the cloud technology space, we are definitely living in interesting times. In their latest magic quadrant report on IaaS, Gartner describes the market as still evolving and maturing. This would imply the market leadership is in flux, yet according to Gartner "AWS is the overwhelming market share leader, with more than five times the compute capacity in use than the aggregate total of the other fourteen providers in this Magic Quadrant." I would say that makes AWS an 800lb gorilla in the room that the competition must get by. Many of those competitors could be considered 800lb gorillas in their own right. Microsoft, IBM, Google are not small companies, yet AWS has managed to create a dominant position in the marketplace.

Can AWS maintain that dominance? Who among the other ‘gorillas' could potentially knock AWS from its perch?

The Big Public Cage Match, IBM vs Amazon
As one would expect, the original 800lb gorilla, IBM, wants to be the one to knock AWS from that perch. Early last year, Amazon beat out IBM for a lucrative four year $600M cloud contract with the CIA. IBM immediately filed a bid protest in February, which was partially upheld by the GAO in June (A Big Win for Big Blue). The battle between the two behemoths continued through the summer. IBM worked to strengthen its IaaS credentials with the acquisition of SoftLayer. In October, what appeared to be a successful bid protest by IBM was overturned by the US Court of Federal claims, and IBM withdrew its injunctive action (IBM Steps back from CIA deal). The battle continued in November when IBM started a significant ad campaign, claiming it held a larger cloud business than Amazon. This blitz included running ads on buses in Las Vegas during Amazon's premier re:Invent conference. In January of this year, IBM committed to a 1.2B investment to expand their global cloud footprint.

The battle has created very diverse views in the industry as to who will finally win. Rob Enderle wrote a very compelling piece on why IBM will win the war with Amazon Web Services. He points out in their over 100-year history, IBM has battled many other disruptive competitors - a fact I am well aware of, being a former employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. Digital (DEC) rose in the '60s, disrupting the mainframe computing industry with a disruptive concept, the mini-computer. DEC eventually rose to being the number two computer manufacturer in the world (behind IBM). DEC is now a fond memory as it was since acquired by Compaq (a PC manufacturer) who was later acquired by Hewlett-Packard. IBM putting you in their sights is not to be taken lightly.

On the flip side, a very good counter argument to that viewpoint was written by David Linthicum, in his article Amazon Web Services has no reason to worry about IBM. One of the key points David makes is the argument that IBM will have difficulty adjusting to selling the cloud service model. He points out "the more cloud services that IBM sells, the less money it will make." In essence, it will displace existing IBM hardware and software with its own "public cloud offering." Add into this viewpoint, IBM doesn't always win. When Oracle first came on the scene, it disrupted the database world, and IBM came out guns a blazing. Oracle has not gone anywhere.

What About the Other Gorillas?
With all the coverage the IBM/AWS cage match has gotten this year, sometimes it's easy to forget there are other significant players in this marketplace. These players are not sitting back and waiting for the results of the IBM / AWS battle. Gartner analyst Lydia Long, in Where are the challengers to AWS?, states: "I think there's a critical shift happening in the market right now. Three very dangerous competitors are just now entering the market - Microsoft, Google and VMware. I think the real war for market share is just beginning." Forrester echoes a similar viewpoint. When viewing the market through a lens of the services provided (compute, RDBMS, storage), Forrester analyst Jeffery Hammond sees Microsoft and Google making strong inroads in the RDBMS and storage services space. As with IBM, Microsoft and Google have deep pockets to compete in this space and are not going to give up without a fight. What I find telling is that both these analysts did not even mention IBM vs. AWS, which has been getting the majority of the public attention. Google just announced a partner program that includes three tiers of third-party vendors providing technical and consulting services for Google's cloud platform.

Verizon Joins the Battle
Last October Verizon announced a new cloud offering built from the ground up to compete with AWS and the other IaaS vendors. This offering is different from their existing Verizon / Terramark cloud offering. The new offering is based on technology from CloudSwitch, a company Verizon acquired a little over two years ago. Verizon hopes to differentiate their offering by allowing the client to define specific performance capabilities around compute, I/O, memory and storage. Verizon states their technology allows them to avoid the ‘noisy neighbor' problem seen from other vendors, a not so subtle swipe at AWS.

In January Verizon announced a partnership with Oracle for their cloud environment. "Beginning in the first quarter of 2014, Oracle customers will be able to license Oracle Database 11g and 12C, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Enterprise Manager to run in Verizon's Managed Hosting and Enterprise Cloud virtual infrastructures, according to a Verizon document that details the Oracle partnership." While AWS does provide the ability to use Oracle 11g in their environment, the addition of the middleware components could be a key differentiator for Verizon.

This by itself is not a game changer, but is a sign that Verizon is serious about competing in this space. Verizon has its sights squarely in AWS's corner. In its announcement Verizon noted that it will continue to expand partnerships and the ecosystem around its cloud offerings. It quickly demonstrated that was just the first salvo. Verizon announced this week that it is extending its partnerships with CloudBees and CloudFoundry, including committing a monetary investment in CloudBees through its venture arm.

Net Neutrality, Could It Be a Game Changer?
In 2010 the FCC adopted the Preserving the Open Internet, Broadband Industry Practices as a means to enforce the concept of net neutrality on the Internet. This was in response to the practice of a variety of broadband providers (including Comcast and Verizon) that were throttling bandwidth usage based on the source. Some of these sources could have been considered competitors. The FCC net neutrality rule had three key components:

  • Transparency - providers must disclose network management and performance information
  • No Blocking - providers may not block lawful content and services
  • No Unreasonable Discrimination - providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic

Now the federal appeals court has struck down that rule. The suit was brought by Verizon. It immediately raised a question in my mind. Does this mean Verizon, in theory, could throttle access to public cloud providers (such as AWS), and provide better access to their own public cloud services? Imagine the impact that could have on the marketplace. Verizon could effectively lock the other gorillas in a room and start their own room.

Will this happen? Not overnight, that's for sure. The FCC has already said they would appeal the decision. Additionally the court did give the FCC some wiggle room in modifying the rule in a way that would pass the courts muster. The battle over net neutrality is far from over, but how it finally gets resolved could have long-term impact for us and the public cloud providers.

Who Will Still Be Standing in Two Years?
One thing that is clear, the market is still in flux. Gartner predicts that one in four cloud providers will be gone by 2015. IBM has already demonstrated the consolidation direction with their purchase of SoftLayer. Concerns about the risk of a cloud provider still being around could start creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for the smaller vendors. The failure of cloud storage provider Nirvanix last year has put this concern at the forefront for many buyers. If the small vendors become acquired, or forced out of business over the next two years, we could easily end up with a room full of just the 800lb gorillas as the market shakes out. The question will then become, how many of these 800lb gorillas can we fit in the room?

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is a director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@BigDataExpo Stories
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, discussed the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
"We are the public cloud providers. We are currently providing 50% of the resources they need for doing e-commerce business in China and we are hosting about 60% of mobile gaming in China," explained Yi Zheng, CPO and VP of Engineering at CDS Global Cloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Businesses and business units of all sizes can benefit from cloud computing, but many don't want the cost, performance and security concerns of public cloud nor the complexity of building their own private clouds. Today, some cloud vendors are using artificial intelligence (AI) to simplify cloud deployment and management. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ajay Gulati, Co-founder and CEO of ZeroStack, will discuss how AI can simplify cloud operations. He will cover the following topics: why clou...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
President Obama recently announced the launch of a new national awareness campaign to "encourage more Americans to move beyond passwords – adding an extra layer of security like a fingerprint or codes sent to your cellphone." The shift from single passwords to multi-factor authentication couldn’t be timelier or more strategic. This session will focus on why passwords alone are no longer effective, and why the time to act is now. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Chris Webber, security strateg...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Robert Cohen, an economist and senior fellow at the Economic Strategy Institute, provideed economic scenarios that describe how the rapid adoption of software-defined everything including cloud services, SDDC and open networking will change GDP, industry growth, productivity and jobs. This session also included a drill down for several industries such as finance, social media, cloud service providers and pharmaceuticals.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Successful digital transformation requires new organizational competencies and capabilities. Research tells us that the biggest impediment to successful transformation is human; consequently, the biggest enabler is a properly skilled and empowered workforce. In the digital age, new individual and collective competencies are required. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bob Newhouse, CEO and founder of Agilitiv, drew together recent research and lessons learned from emerging and established compa...
"IoT is going to be a huge industry with a lot of value for end users, for industries, for consumers, for manufacturers. How can we use cloud to effectively manage IoT applications," stated Ian Khan, Innovation & Marketing Manager at Solgeniakhela, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.