Welcome!

Linux Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Victoria Livschitz, Ignacio M. Llorente

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, Java, Linux, Big Data Journal, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

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 senior enterprise architect and director at Collaborative Consulting. He brings more than 34 years of information technology experience of designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, client/server, middleware, and cloud technologies, Ed has designed and delivered projects for a variety of 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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.