6 things I think I think for IaaS in 2012
By John Cowan, Co-Founder and CEO of 6fusion
Time sure goes by in a flash, doesn’t it? Its that time of year again. Time for the requisite prognostication for the year ahead in the IaaS business!
Most pundits seem to think their slate gets cleaned at this time of year and they get to make a new set of blanket assessments for the year ahead. I don’t think it works quite like that. The 6 things I think I thought (or is it I thought I think??) for 2011 are still largely what I believe today, but some things have set a more or less aggressive course. Other things I was admittedly a bit premature about.
With that in mind, as I try to offer some insight into the year ahead I’ll do so with a bit of a redux to my 2011 post with updated thoughts and insight.
- 2011 Prediction: Hybridization Will Prove Critical to Enterprise Adoption. I’ve been to the edge and back and I have a few words of wisdom to share with my peers about the Enterprise cloud. Unless what you are doing bridges a gap between what exists inside the four walls of the enterprise data center and what might safely and securely exist outside of those four walls you are just another GUI in the Red Ocean peddling the same wares we’ve seen for years. Hybridization is something enterprise buyers will use to separate the crème from the crop in 2011.
2012 Perspective: Hybridization WAS key in 2011 and I’m doubling down in 2012. If you’ve paid attention to the consolidation in the industry, you’d best do the same. The big boys are snapping up anything that smells like bridging the enterprise to the multi-tenant host. Look for this trend to intensify.
- 2011 Prediction: Regional Clouds Unite. The arms race among regional managed hosting providers to beef up for cloud services was evident in 2010. But the silo approach to building up IaaS on a regional basis will prove difficult if not impossible to compete on scale – and it won’t take long to figure this out. In 2011 expect to see the concept of broad-based IaaS federation become a much more prominent theme as owners of regional facilities and compute partner to create scale and increase market size in the quest to truly monetize their resources and compete with the national players.
2012 Perspective: I’ve spoken with some pretty big names in the business and scale is an issue with their regional plays in the market. The challenge in 2011 for federation was the degree of difficulty associated with interoperability. There was much progress on this front in 2011 but I think before broad based federation goes from concept to reality there needs to be more plumbing. 2012 will be the year real interoperability tracks are laid as a foundation for scalable cloud federation.
- 2011 Prediction: The Ecosystem is Bigger Than the Organism. The IaaS industry is beginning to realize that the creation and quantification of IaaS demand is much more important than the creation of supply. Its one thing to have the capability to power or enable the creation of IaaS resources, but it is entirely another to drive revenue and margin to the cloud. The emergence of business ecosystems will be a consistent theme for the coming year because partnering is the key to success in a nascent market. In 2011 you will see more and more eyebrow-raising deals announced based on ‘synergistic’ partnerships – partnerships that drive mutual revenue and margin between companies that are bound by the common interest of leveraging, distributing and powering IaaS.
2012 Perspective: VMware unveiled its plans to stitch together Vcloud operators at its big VMworld shindig, but this wasn’t the only giant making big bets on the cloud ecosystem concept. Equinix, one of the world’s largest data center operators, hatched is master plan for a ‘Marketplace’ of Platform Equinix Partners and Synnex, one of the most powerful IT Distributors in North America took a huge step with its Cloudsolv application and services portal. Watch what these three companies do in 2012 to drive ecosystem growth.
- It’s All About the Channel. Building a global business one end-user customer at a time doesn’t scale if your business is supposed to compete with the market pioneers. In order to generate a serious outbound push to globalize IaaS the cost of business acquisition will be too high for almost every player. In 2011 IaaS vendors will wake up to the fact that they need help in order to scale revenues and ultimately generate the ROI they are promising shareholders. Queue the channel gold rush.
I am still a firm believer in the channel and I’m still banking my company’s future on it. However, the Channel failed to capitalize on the cloud opportunity in 2011 the way I thought it would. Don’t get me wrong, the needle definitely moved. But the cloud operators and the broader channel are still separated by an expertise gulf that is limiting how much cloud money flows via the intermediary. The investment from the IaaS providers continues to be there. Find me one IaaS services or software provider that doesn’t showcase a channel program today. 2012 will see the gulf shrink and the channel heat up because Distribution will hit its stride and carry with it more evidence of the gold rush I saw last year.
- 2011 Prediction: Communities Will Emerge. I subscribe to the notion that one day every business in every vertical will consume a form of public cloud – but we are not anywhere close to this reality. Large scale IaaS operated by a trusted third party and made available to a select group of common-interested stakeholders is a concept that has legs. Trust me on this one. Building out community clouds will emerge in 2011 as one of, if not the most important, concepts to help accelerate IaaS adoption.
2012 Update: By the middle of the 2nd quarter I was beginning to worry about this prediction? Was I going a bit too far out on a limb? Then, bang! VMware announces the big deal with the NYSE. Wow. Talk about going big or going home. The NYSE community cloud has a lot of eyes on it. A large number of other vertical deals are hanging in the balance, hoping to learn what not to do when details of the NYSE project become more public. I think this VMware play will be a big success and in 2012, you will see many other big players follow suit.
- A Course Will Be Charted for an IaaS Futures Market. If you don’t subscribe to the notion that the final destination for this ride is a commodity exchange for compute, stop and take a look around. Spot markets emerged in 2010, much to the surprise of many industry pundits. But spot markets, as novel as they are, do not a true market make. The real money and the real opportunity are in futures trading. There are forces at work on this as I type away, and although you won’t actually see compute on a major exchange in 2011, do expect to see this theme to creep it’s way into mainstream IaaS thinking.
2012 Perspective: Spot market concepts made progress in 2011 but as expected were not able to truly capture the imagination of the market. However, the groundswell around commodity compute resource trading is gaining momentum. And in 2012 look for general progress in this area with a few players coming out of the woodwork to surprise some.
As a bonus prediction this year, maybe a 6.1 on the list so as to stay with my theme, look for vendors and pundits alike to completely drink the cloud brokerage kool aid. You’ll wake up one morning in the third quarter and vendors new and old will be touting themselves as the onramp to many clouds. It won’t be quite like the cloud washing we’ve seen over the past couple of years, but you’ll still shake your head in disbelief.
Have a great 2012!!