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Big names falling behind in the IaaS cloud

Cloud is the buzzword for 2012 but big names seem to be falling behind when it comes to providing Infrastructure as a Service.

Gartner has just released its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The report mentions which companies are in Gartner’s Cloud IaaS coverage and is a pretty good directory for those companies which are major players. Gartner Magic Quadrant lists are used as a starting point for CIOs and hunting for partners in the channel.

Using the Gartner report to gauge the success of IaaS use does have a few weaknesses, in that you have to pay the analyst outfit to be included, but the names it does have are telling.

The names according to Gartner in IaaS are Amazon Web Services, BlueLock, CSC, Dell Cloud, Dimension Data, Fujitsu, GoGrid, Joyent, OVH, Rackspace, Savvis, SoftLayer, Tier 3, Terremark and Virtustream are all part of the Gartner programme.

But the report has some surprising omissions, which just happen to be the bigger names in the IT industry and are the most vocal about cloud services generally.

Google’s Compute Engine is not included because it is still getting started as is the HP Cloud. Apple’s cloud services are also missing completely, despite, it is alleged, having a data centre that rivals Amazon.
IBM’s SmartCloud Enterprise is in a similar state as is Microsoft Windows Azure. To be fair, IBM’s DB2 database is part of the Gogrid partnership network. Even Oracle, with its Cloud Infrastructure is new to the game and yet to make an impact. Likewise SAP is missing from the list.

IaaS offers clients virtualised services at their most basic level. A customer purchases infrastructure services and receive one or more virtualised environments.

Customers don’t need to buy hardware, operating system licenses, or networking equipment. The data centre is outsourced and all the costs are built in. There is flexibility and scalability that would be impossible if they were to provide their own infrastructure since additional virtual machines are created on demand and removed just as easily.

Clients of IaaS providers can expect increased reliability as their provider will have less difficulty managing the resources to ensure redundancy and 24/7 support on a large scale than their clients would individually on a smaller scale.

The biggest winner out of the Cloud IasS revolution is Amazon but if buying your way into a new industry is the way forward, then Dell must be doing well too.

But why have the big names been so slow to push out significant cloud offerings? Why has it taken SAP so long to realise that had to move so fast that it bought Ariba in somewhat of a hurry?

It seems that while the big names realised that the cloud was important, they have been slow to provide actual hardware products in comparison to smaller tech outfits.

SAP for example has made much out of the fact that it wants to reach one billion people through cloud solutions by 2015 and become the fastest growing database company globally. But it would have been there a lot sooner had it set up the infrastructure sooner.

Google has been touting its cloud based services in opposition to Microsoft for a few years, but both are still bit players in the IaaS when they should have been leaders. What both would say is that they are leaders, just not in the IaaS market yet.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, for example, wants to incorporate all three to his portfolio of products. This would mean that he could build a public and private cloud entirely based around the company’s software and hardware.
But Ellison’s moves in this direction are also slow, given the fact he has been trying to work out something to do with all that Sun technology he bought.

His vision is pretty much what the other big names will be looking at.

One of the reasons that the bigger names have been slower to rush into providing those sorts of services to clients is because they are actually harder for customers to operate. While the other cloud services were an easy sale, Clients of an IaaS have to create and configure the virtual machines necessary to run their applications. Customers are also forced to develop and maintaining their own software code.

This is something that more SaaS names like Microsoft, Oracle and Google would prefer to do for themselves. Perhaps the key reason why the main companies are not elbowing their way into the IaaS market is that, with the exception of Oracle and HP, they lacked the hardware expertise to pull it off.

HP might have an excuse in that it has been a bit slower off the mark thanks to the identity crisis it has been suffering from for the last couple of years. Mention anything to do with hardware in an HP boardroom and you might find yourself looking for a new job.

Either way, the positions of all of the main players are lined up for emergence in 2013 and a tight competition in 2014.

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