Technology Giants Making Big Bets, Customers Holding Out

One of the things I love about being an analyst is chatting with my colleagues about what’s going on in general at the macro level. Don’t get me wrong, I love the deep dive discussions, too! Getting to talk to such seasoned industry vets is always enlightening. Of course I have my lens (and bias) and I like to think about what’s going on from a cloud perspective.

When I think of big tech companies like Microsoft, IBM, Dell, HP, Oracle – I think of almost glacial movement with a spike that occurs from some new product announcement or an occasional acquisition. And here is where it gets interesting – WOW – are things changing fast, wicked fast. Not only are the giants spending money on acquisitions, but they are also putting their weight behind some pretty major ‘movements’ in the industry as well.

Let’s take Microsoft first (and I’m going to focus on cloud stuff to keep this blog length). Microsoft has really turned a corner by making major improvements and also coalescing functionality between Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure (e.g., seamlessly move a VM from on-prem to Azure). Add in the fact that Oracle and Microsoft just struck a deal that Oracle will certify Oracle, Java, Oracle Linux, and WebLogic on Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure. Also, it is interesting to note that Microsoft drives capabilities like MS Office to mobile, though they it lacks an iPad/Android based tablet version. Meanwhile, the other tablets (non-Surface) find alternative productivity tool answers. If Microsoft really intends to resell ‘Azure’ in a box for other providers, things could get really interesting as they continue to make headway in the data center with Hyper-V – this would allow them to far more quickly expand their hybrid cloud capabilities and would be an interesting response to VMware and Amazon.

Big ‘ole Blue (IBM) is not sitting still either. On the heels of a series of Big Data acquisitions, they recently put their weight behind OpenStack which fits in nicely with all the work they’ve done with KVM. Picture IBM selling ‘cloud-in-a-box’ OpenStack with their converged infrastructure based PureSystems. If you assume the converged infrastructure comes with cloud service management software (e.g., OpenStack + IBM’s Tivoli) then you get the picture. Then on to the biggest blue news – they recently bought SoftLayer which has 13 data centers. With IBM converting their newly acquired clouds to OpenStack – they will be in a good position to offer their traditional service management suite (Tivoli). If they federate capabilities with their SoftLayer clouds, this becomes an interesting offering for the enterprise as a hybrid cloud solution. And we can’t forget their hot-off-the-press announcement to participate in Pivotal’s CloudFoundry with IBM adding CloudFoundry to its Open Cloud architecture for PaaS services.

As for Dell – talk about a company in transition. As PC sales wane, they have to become more relevant in the data center (servers) as well with the endpoints out there that we are all carrying around (often 2-3 per person). Add to that the fact that they are, as we speak, working on going private – which is another kind of change that will affect their focus and efforts as a company. In the cloud space, they are continuing to acquire very important technologies – from Boomi (cloud ESB), Quest (tools for protection and management), Enstratius (cloud service management), and Wyse (virtual desktops). Not to mention what Dell is doing with all kinds of cloud partnerships – between OpenStack, Mirantis, Red Hat, CloudBolt and others who are helping cloud service providers be successful. And we haven’t gotten to what Dell is doing with its integrated compute platforms and how they will factor into their private cloud activities. Oh – and we can’t forget their recent announcement for their Federal Government Cloud and the very successful Unified Clinical Archive cloud services.

HP – Like Dell, HP is driving cloud and supporting OpenStack. What is different is HP also provides cloud services as a service provider. There are two key benefits to this approach: One, it allows customers to kick the tires across a full spectrum of HP’s (converged infrastructure, storage, and software) technology and see it in practice. And two, it allows a customer to build a hybrid cloud that is based on all the same technology and use HP cloud for scale or DR etc. HP continues to innovate with their converged infrastructure and new server technology based on multi-proccessor ARM servers. These systems enable huge savings almost hitting a trifecta at 80% - up to 89%+ less power, 80% less space, and 77% less cost. This has to be great for ever denser and bigger clouds needed by VM-hungry companies and service providers.

Since we touched on Oracle – let’s delve in! This is a company that has always either built or bought everything they wanted to and now they own the whole stack (software and hardware). Oracle’s recent announcement with Microsoft was just one of the big partnerships. They also announced partnerships with Salesforce to provide integration of SF’s CRM with Oracle Human Capital Management software. They also announced integration with NetSuite for Oracles HCM software as well. To me this does two things – one, gives them an opportunity to deliver their own SaaS capabilities in SFs and NetSuite’s customer base as well as block Workday who are doing pretty well on their own right. Oracle also just announced add ARM support for its Java Micro Edition so that it can have a shot at the multi-trillion $ 'Internet of things' business. After all, where do you think people are going to store all that data?

This is a lot to digest … but it really is only scratching the surface in terms of the sea change that is occurring (and a short list of vendors and their innovations/acquisitions) – the changes are neither subtle nor slow – it is happening very fast. It seems to be making it very hard for enterprise companies to decide where to place their bets. My money is on more cloud – it allows companies to kick the tires without long term commitments and provides an alternative to breaking ground on new data center space. What do you think?

Topics: Networking Converged Infrastructure Cloud Services & Orchestration