My trip this past week to Las Vegas for PEX was as a first timer. First time as an analyst as well as my first time to PEX. My goal while I was there was to talk to as many CEOs, CMOs, and VPs of technology companies that develop cloud-related products or provide cloud services. The experience was nothing short of exhilarating. Not because I really like LV but because it was so great to talk to so many bright, hard working, and passionate people. It also was nice to bump into a few old friends as well.
Instead of talking about specific companies I’d like to share a few patterns (and maybe an anti-pattern or two) regarding my experience there.
- Converged Infrastructure (CI) has many definitions – for some it definitely meant the built, delivered, ready to go box. For others it means fully vetted reference architectures. But I saw another use case. Anyone been paying attention to the VDI appliance vendors? These seem to me to be very high performing CI devices. Why not put SAP on one and tune it to do SAP well or how about SQLServer? Some even seem to be full IaaS in a box with data protection, dedupe, etc. all built in.
- Cloud Service Management – met a few people in this space that I’ll chat about more in future blogs but I was really excited to see some of what is happening in this space. Some of these vendors call it ITaaS software (which it is) but several of these customers took what they were doing as MSPs and productized it. I’m just about done with a Market Summary Report that covers who the players are and will be published in the next couple of weeks and now I have a few new names to quickly add to this report. What intrigues me most is that these companies are all thinking beyond making all the pieces work together and are thinking about how to expose IT to the business as if it was part of an ERP/SCM system. Some of these folks are also thinking about the future cloud system being an open market system with services coming from a best fit perspective (price, offer, etc.).
- CSP flavors. While I thought I understood the CSP market I got to see a few new delivery models. One company in particular stood out. I like to think of CSPs fitting in 4 core buckets: Pure-play/MSP, Manufacturer, Broker, and Telco. Then I met a person from a company that I thought was in between a couple of categories. They didn’t own the data center – they "hotel" at a data center provider and within their own cage provide their own MSP and CSP services. It took me a second to realize – wow – what a great model for expanding your cloud geographical presence without having to worry about building the data center, permitting process, and network connections. Instead you can focus on what you are good at. Plus these particular folks have a couple of reference architectures that they offer to their customers with highly standardized offerings.
- Anti-pattern 1. The first realization I had was how diverse these IaaS offerings were. From carrier/enterprise grade to SMB, from reference architecture to converged infrastructures to build their own, and down to specifics like using thin provisioning versus not using it, or charging on-demand versus something more like a subscription model. So I’d say WOW and if I was a CIO I'd make sure I really understood the differences as they have a huge impact on SLA, functionality, as well as cost.
- Anti-pattern 2. While the event was VMware PEX there are of course other ecosystems out there. Most of the vendors and CSPs we talked to are building multiple offers based on multiple hypervisors. For CSPs this could be viewed as a way to provide tiered services. For technology vendors it just makes sense in terms of adjacency and total market share.
I just want to personally thank all folks we got to meet out there. They were long hard days – but very rewarding from where I sat. I learned a lot and shared a few of my thoughts as well. I’m looking forward to sharing more about these things as well some of the research I’m going to be publishing very soon. Thanks to the folks I met out there I know for sure the work I’m doing is all the right stuff at the right time.