Cloud Customers May Not Want Choice, But They Will Need It

LAS VEGAS: IBM Edge 2014 kicks off this week, and while the focus will be on infrastructure, particularly storage and server hardware, the 5,500-plus attendees will get a steady diet of CAMS (cloud, analytics, mobile and social). Big Blue is not the only large IT vendor accelerating its cloud push: was all over the Third Platform at this month’s customer conference, and Cisco, VMware, Microsoft, and HP & Dell are all jockeying for position with cloud service provider (CSP) powerhouse Amazon Web Services and up-and-comer .

However, while IT’s 800-pound gorillas are all making billion-dollar plays for the cloud, and smaller players like Canonical (Chuck Norris-grade cloud) and Rackspace (perennial AWS bridesmaid) rise and fall, end users are pushing for a multi-cloud universe and freedom from vendor lock-in. It wasn’t that long ago that ’s former cloud storage – or storage-as-a-service (STaaS) – partner, Nirvanix, left more than 1,000 customers scrambling with just two weeks to move their data elsewhere.

Portability, the ability to move workloads around, is what RackWare – ‘policy-based scaling, bursting and parking’ – is all about. “The foundation of what we do is workload portability,” said Eric Sherman, VP Worldwide Sales. The company takes any workload and makes them inherently portable between public and private clouds, and to multiple public clouds as well,he said.

At February’s IBM Pulse 2014 conference, announced that its RackWare Management Module software was available to extend on-premise data center workloads into IaaS. Features and benefits RMM brings to cloud infrastructures like include:

-On Boarding– push-button migration of enterprise data center workloads into private or public clouds; -Auto Parking – automatically shuts down cloud host resources when they are not in use;

-Auto Scaling – provides policy-based Scale-In and Scale-Out operations on individual or groups of hosts in addition to coordinating with other infrastructure as hosts are activated or deactivated; and,

-Cloud Bursting – automatically provisions data center hosts and extends them into heterogeneous private or public cloud infrastructure to enhance customer service levels.

Most enterprises RackWare talks to are focused on the technology barriers, especially with regards to their existing data center,said Sherman. “The first step is to move away from technology barriers, because we’re going to make them all go away,” which makes the cloud less of a threat. “Disruption forces changes that they’re not necessarily ready to absorb.”

According to ’s Pat Adamiak in an interview last year, the market is evolving with many flavors of specialized cloud services, something the network giant called the  ‘world of many clouds’. There are a range of opportunities for cloud providers to provide differentiated cloud services, he said.

“Enterprises will neither leverage cloud for 100% of their IT assets nor rely on a single vendor,” according to Technology Business Research’s Hybrid Cloud Customer Report, which will be updated next month. AWS lags Google, and IBM as the primary IaaS vendor in hybrid cloud environments, but it expects AWS to improve across 2014 as new messaging and sales tactics come to fruition.

IBM agrees, at least for the near term, that there will be many clouds. “Our view is one size does not fit all,” said Steve Robinson, GM, Cloud Platform Services.

So IBM is supporting multiple cloud methodologies, strategies and architectures. “We want to make sure we’re pushing the envelope of where cloud architectures go.”

Despite RackWare’s on-prem-to-cloud-to-multi-cloud capabilities, Sherman said most customers don’t appear to buy into the world of many clouds. “What I’ve seen, most customers would prefer to have one cloud provider. What they’re learning is that they’re going to have a number of cloud providers”, he said.

He points to different suppliers having different strengths, i.e. for development, or to satisfy regulatory issues. “It’s an area of confusion for them (customers). They start to worry are they making the right choice.”

The nice thing about RackWare is that no matter what the decision, customers are not locked in, which is a good thing, because he said the multi-cloud world is going to be a reality. Not because customers want it, he said, but because they will have no choice but to use multiple vendors to supply multiple requirements.

The latest number indicate why everybody is in a cloud feeding frenzy:

-94% of respondents of a new end-user survey said they had cloud adoption of some kind going on (RightScale);

-around 10% of software spending will have moved to the cloud by the end of 2014, while Infrastructure as a Service will represent 15% of all spending on servers and storage (IDC);

-spending on cloud-related technologies and services will be up 20% this year, to $174.2 billion (IHS);

-the public cloud market is now in hypergrowth, shooting up from last year’s $58 billion to $191 billion by 2020, with cloud applications at $133 billion, cloud platforms at $44 billion, and cloud business services at $14 billion (Forrester); and,

-the hybrid cloud market – the combination of public and private cloud computing – will grow at a CAGR of 30.16% over the 2013-2018 period, led by Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace and (Research and Markets).

IBM got some good news from IDC, which reported that it was enterprise cloud buyers’ “overall top preference among providers they believe can most effectively provision IaaS, whether private or public.” Along with , Cisco, and AT&T they are the preferred IaaS providers, topping the likes of Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Rackspace.

IBM may be singing the many-cloud anthem, but its recent moves reinforce the company’s strong focus on packaging services and support around these proprietary platforms (BlueMix and acquisitions such as Cloudant and Aspera) to enable customer transitions to IBM’s proprietary cloud environments where business outcomes will drive customer value, said TBR analyst Matthew Casey. “Representing the migration path between IBM’s legacy software portfolio and the cloud infrastructure acquired through SoftLayer, acquisitions such as Cloudant and the new BlueMix platform will help IBM continue monetizing its existing software capabilities while positioning the company for future growth in cloud and ultimately an outcomes-based business model.”

Proprietary or not, IBM offers customers a lot of options, noted Wayne Pauley, Senior Analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group, back in February. “(T)he enterprise has a lot of choice with IBM that allows them to build and run their cloud apps on-premises in a private cloud, off-prem in a public cloud, as a hybrid offering, or as SaaS usage.”

The other thing IBM brings to the table, and why it was attractive to RackWare, was that unlike the company’s other supported cloud platforms, IBM is tackling the cloud market from an enterprise perspective,said Sherman. “If you look at the other leaders in the cloud market, including the largest, they’re not approaching it from there. That’s the crux of the IBM/RackWare relationship.”



Author: Steve Wexler

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