One of the bigger benefits promised by the cloud is cost-effective access to the latest and greatest technology, often including compute-intensive services that were out of reach for all but the largest enterprises.
- Providers are now delivering some advanced services through the cloud including analytics and ERP applications. The migration to the cloud, and away from a conventional consumption model, is having a profound impact on the hardware suppliers and the competitive playing field. How will this shake up effect service delivery and customer choice?
In the traditional client/server computing model that dominated the market for so many years, organizations relied on a Cap-Ex-centered approach to IT consumption where their individual technology pursuits were tied directly to often tight hardware budgets and procurement cycles. New application upgrades were linked to long term licensing agreements and sometimes lengthy hardware depreciation time tables. This could push some often ambitious processing-intensive projects well into the future or even outside the realm of possibility.
The cloud erases the upfront challenge associated with hefty hardware investments, and potentially many of the ongoing support costs while promising a more efficient – and economical – model by allowing the enterprise to pay for just the resources it uses. While most of the initial on-demand computing use cases were fairly rudimentary and concentrated around applications like test and development, the big promise was always around making more advanced applications and technology resources available if not to the masses, at least to a wider constituency.
We are starting to see that promise become reality in various areas, with ITSP partner in new ways to bring high-end applications and in some cases, superior processing power to a broader prospect pool. For example, customers now have the option of running SAP Business Suite on Amazon Web Services cloud. IBM’s PureSystems line of integrated computing systems, which are largely focused around analytics and the cloud, now include a model aimed at helping smaller customers develop and deploy cloud, as well as on-premises applications more quickly. The IBM PureApplication System, which also comes in a version for MSPs, is bundled with management and other software customers can use to expedite the cloud application development and deployment process. Other providers like Oracle are offering pre-integrated systems that are optimized to work with variable cloud application workloads.
Just as the increasing popularity of mobile devices and tablet computing has had a big impact on the desktop hardware market, the increasing focus on shared computing and as-a-Service delivery models is pushing server vendors to approach the market in new ways. The impact stretches beyond the obvious hardware vendors, as software and application vendors like Microsoft reinvent themselves to solidify their role in this new age in IT consumption both by adapting their delivery models (e.g., SaaS delivery) and through investments (e.g., Microsoft’s $2 billion loan to help Dell go private).
So what will the net effect of these changes be on the competitive landscape? How will the end customer be impacted? Is there more consolidation ahead? Will the changes breed further innovation or will this cycle come full circle with everyone winding up back on square one?