There's an old joke that starts: How do you make God laugh?
The answer, of course: Make plans.
Larger services companies bent on world domination have poised a lot of capital into developing cloud resources, and some aren't doing well. Let's ignore Software-as-a-service/SaaS and pure-play cloud services companies, and instead let's focus on some new entrants that staked their claims in other markets beside cloud.
What They Did: Clouds are made of up disk and virtual stuff, and Dell just bought EMC – whose disk empire is legendary – and with it, a huge chunk of VMware, whose feisty formula for virtualizing all-things-not-nailed-down is legendary.
What Might Happen: In one huge private (not public) transaction, Dell gets The Full Meal Deal, and makes up for a half-decade of losing ground.
What They Did: Like all good B-School grads, they took a key success ingredient in their rapidly evolving IT infrastructure and resold excess capacity at such a price as to make it highly attractive to the IT-Maker hybrid community, thus launching still another way to make Amazon more fluid whilst spawning developer and service provider imaginations.
What Might Happen: All leaders are the biggest targets of competitors, who learn by a leader's mistakes, and find cracks to drive hydraulically powered wedges. They've captured imagination, and to keep the pace of that attractiveness and fluidity, must imagine products that don't go stale easily through a long revenue cycle. I say: spin-off.
What They Did: Dawdled, then attempted to take an increasingly brittle if varied and successful computing infrastructure for businesses, along with a huge user base, then not only adapted it for the web, but also made licensing suitable for actual virtualization—then cloud use. Their cloud offering, Azure, now mimes appliance, DevOps/AgileDev, and ground-floor services of their strongest competitors, if a little green in places.
What Might Happen: Microsoft will continue to try to leverage a huge user base into forward-thinking capabilities to extend but not destroy F/OSS initiatives, gleaning the good stuff and vetting as much as is possible into the user cloud model, and also the hybrid and public cloud models. Profit!
What They Did: After the indigestion of Sun and MySQL, Oracle wrestled with evolving their own vertical cloud, knowing that their highly successful DB products required comparative platform (and also customer) control. Attempts at virtualization weren't very successful, but the oil well in the basement, SQL infrastructure, continued to produce oil. Cloud offerings were designed for their target clientele and no others, holding ground while not losing ground.
What Might Happen: Oracle's enterprise clientele has a love/hate relationship with Oracle, and migration to another platform makes them shudder and perspire. Core line-of-business functionality continues to evolve but at a comparatively/competitively lower pace than visible progress made in the arena Oracle plays in.
What They Did: HP purchased Eucalyptus, a burgeoning cloud emulation and DevOps/AgileDev integration software organization known for their AWS emulation private cloud capabilities. HP evolved the purchase into the HP Helion Cloud, which offered private, public, and hybrid clouds. Development appeared (to me) to languish at least in the public space as smaller competitors, notably Rackspace (and other pure-play cloud services organizations) evolved. HP announced last week that they're dropping the public portion of their Helion Cloud, after changing management earlier.
What Might Happen: As a hardware company, HP competes potentially with cloud services organizations on the cloud front. Its support for initiatives like OpenStack may change. Now that competitor Dell will digest EMC and VMware, the game has changed.
“If you do one thing, do it very well.” That mantra seems to ring true, and each of these organization has struggled to keep up with the pace of change and competitive pricing, all while attempting to gain, rather than hold, ground. Juggling clouds, to coin a metaphor, isn't easy.
There's one motivating a migration to the cloud that must be absorbed by cloud services organizations that no one likes to talk about: shifting depreciation. Each of these organizations (and more like them) faces cost models while the sands of depreciation fall through the ROI glass.