Amazon and Microsoft Clouds: Who's Playing Catch-Up? - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // Digital Business

Amazon and Microsoft Clouds: Who's Playing Catch-Up?

Amazon and Microsoft clouds leave HP, IBM, and Google struggling with developers. Here's why.

Today, an organization wishing to expand its computing capabilities by tapping into the cloud will find a wide range of choices. There are many IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) hosts, who simply configure a virtual machine and charge for the time resources with which it is configured and the time it's used. The two biggest by far are Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. In addition, there are a wide variety of PaaS vendors who offer specially preconfigured instances of machines that address specific needs (Web server, git host, and so on). The big action is still in IaaS, though, and Microsoft's presence in the #2 spot is curious, but not altogether unexpected.

As I've noted in previous editorials, Microsoft is in the midst of a remarkable corporate turnaround that is affecting almost every IT-oriented product it offers. Microsoft Azure has been the crown jewel in that turnaround and the recent quarterly results show that the company's strategy has been highly successful. The company's revenue is at an all-time high — as would have been its income, were it not for one-time charges. Its stock price is near record highs. Compare this with its competitors: Amazon, IBM, and HP, who are all struggling. Amazon lost money again last quarter, IBM's revenue continues to miss expectations, and HP is addressing its slow growth by splitting the company into two parts. IBM and HP are both trying to gain traction for their cloud offerings. Competing with them for what is now third place are Oracle and Google.

Around these principal players are a constellation of niche vendors who either overlap or complement the main offerings: Rackspace, Skytap, Red Hat OpenShift, and VMware/Pivotal's Cloud Foundry.

The problem all these vendors have is attracting business. There is no doubt that as enterprises become more comfortable with the concept of cloud, they will begin moving more of their apps and data to clouds outside the data center. The cloud's ease of use, the quick expansion of computing power, and the ability to push content-download traffic off the data center (among other advantages) are far too attractive to be passed over. But which cloud host to use?

Read the rest of this article on Dr.Dobb's.

Prior to joining Dr. Dobb's Journal, Andrew Binstock worked as a technology analyst, as well as a columnist for SD Times, a reviewer for InfoWorld, and the editor of UNIX Review. Before that, he was a senior manager at Price Waterhouse. He began his career in software ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Author
10/31/2014 | 11:18:24 AM
Re: Who's playing catch-up? Just about everyone except Amazon, Microsoft
IBM has too much too lose if it falls behind for long. good point re longevity. Andrew, I enjoyed hearing the view from the developer side of the house on Google and the others.
D. Henschen
D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
10/31/2014 | 9:47:45 AM
I want more of this analysis
I'm loving this analysis, Andrew, but I want more. You're clearest in analyzing where HP has fallen short and what it could do to improve its position. I'd love to hear your development-expert opinions on the breadth and appeal of the IBM and Oracle clouds as well.

Amazon was the first mover and Microsoft has big numbers of developers. But is winning in the cloud only measured by having the most customers? Have IBM and Oracle, for example, created cloud portfolios that effectively meet the needs of IBM-centric shops and Oracle-centric shops, respectively, even if they'll never beat Amazon or Microsoft on sheer numbers? I'm not suggesting that's the case. I'm sincerely looking for more of your analysis on each player (and please link earlier coverage if I missed that).

You delivered a qualitative, not just quantitative, assessment of Helion, and it would be great to get your take on the other top cloud competitors.
Andrew Binstock
Andrew Binstock,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 9:59:51 PM
Re: Who's playing catch-up? Just about everyone except Amazon, Microsoft
Thanks, Charlie, for filling out the picture.
Charlie Babcock
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
10/30/2014 | 7:47:32 PM
Who's playing catch-up? Just about everyone except Amazon, Microsoft
Who's playing catch up? While there are many cloud providers, the move to the cloud is viewed by many businesses as strategic, not short term tactical. So they want a cloud partner they can count on far into the future. They also want to see their partner operating many cloud data centers around the world as an aid to their internatinal operations. And they want those centers to be interconnected with high speed private lines. the capital investment is immense. As you look at those strategic requirements, more and more suppliers get weeded out. I would add CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon and VMware to your contender list. They all understand the strategic requirements. But it's mainly Amazon and Microsoft who are showing the ability to execute on them, with the telcos and IBM trying to stay in play.
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