A few end of the year observations from Cloud City (aka Seattle):
- AWS remains a beast. Yet a chink in their armor is emerging…
- Azure has become the clear challenger to AWS. The much maligned Mr. Ballmer is not getting credit for Microsoft’s embrace and execution on cloud. Unlike most of its cohorts rooted (mired?) in previous generations of technology, Microsoft is well on its way to making the cloud transition.
- Despite very strong technology and an impressive operational footprint, Google Cloud Platform is still a hobby for Google. They are as yet unwilling to make the necessary non-technology investments to really compete to win here.
- Private infrastructure clouds just aren’t happening – instead enterprises are both getting more comfortable (surrendering?) with public cloud and continuing to invest in virtualization (VMware obituaries were definitely premature).
- OpenStack’s identity crisis is warranted. Without a credible ecosystem of OpenStack-based public cloud providers and little enterprise private cloud adoption, the OpenStack bandwagon is left providing ingredient technology to the industry itself, which doesn’t really need what the vendors are selling.
- Rackspace’s OpenStack bet outcome is increasingly clear: they may not exit 2014 as an independent entity. They should have invested up the stack in higher value services like Amazon, not down (and to add insult to injury, I’ll wager their VMware business still is bigger than their OpenStack business). They’ve lost over half of their market cap this year. While they still sport a premium multiple, the overall trend is towards a SoftLayer kind of valuation which could put them in play for acquisition by the kind of legacy vendors who confuse hosting with cloud (isn’t HP out telling the world their balance sheet has finally recovered from Autonomy?).
- PaaS is still a zero billion dollar category, but could PaaS end up being the level at which enterprises implement private cloud? I see more traction for PaaS than IaaS in the enterprise.
- In the absence of a strong set of customer successes, I think Hadoop may be spending some time in the trough of disillusionment. The challenge is not filling the data lake, the challenge is extracting meaningful and material business results from the lake. It is a data science problem far more than an infrastructure problem. How long will it take to transition to a Hadoop 2 that is robust, deployable, performance, has ecosystem support, etc.?
- I continue to be amused that Google is so far ahead when it comes to big data that it is a material disadvantage for them. They get dismissed as proprietary while the rest of the industry is enraptured with Google’s technology from two generations back that has been awkwardly laundered through Yahoo.
What else is happening below the clouds on the ground?