Q&A: Cloud war alliances: Smart move or path to disaster? Special

Posted Aug 2, 2019 by Tim Sandle
From IBM’s purchase of Red Hat to the Microsoft-Oracle partnership, the so-called 'Cloud Wars' have seen major players pair up and pick sides. This is rare in the tech sector and a sign of a growing but uncertain market, says RackWare's Todd Matters.
This photo  taken with a fisheye lens  shows a server room.
This photo, taken with a fisheye lens, shows a server room.
Jonathan Nackstrand, AFP/File
Vendors of cloud computing services appear to be have realizing that they are better off forming alliances rather than taking the risk of being left behind. These alliances could potentially, shape the future of the cloud marketplace. However, will these partnerships be strong enough to take on Amazon Web Services as the industry leader? Will enterprises ultimately benefit, or are these partnerships just for financial gain?
Todd Matters, co-founder at RackWare, provides Digital Journal readers with analysis of the current state of the competitive landscape and shares insights on the potential impact to enterprise customers.
Digital Journal: How important is cloud computing for businesses?
Todd Matters: Cloud computing is increasingly vital for businesses. The move of enterprises to rely on cloud computing is really just beginning, but it is going to accelerate.
With cloud computing, businesses don’t need to worry about managing as many data centers, which are very complex and difficult to operate due to security concerns as well as real estate, power, and cooling requirements. Because of this, relegating some of your workloads to a cloud environment is economically advantageous.
Increasingly, cloud computing is used to address ephemeral computing needs. So, if something pops up for a period of time and you don’t want to make a huge investment in your own datacenter, cloud computing is the perfect avenue to meet that need. Data centers and private clouds aren’t going to go away. As a matter of fact, the trend moving forward will be for those elements to interact with one another and actually be deployed as part of an overall integrated architecture.
DJ: What is the state of competition between different providers? And, is there a move for cloud providers to merge?
Matters: There’s currently a pretty big land grab going on among the providers since enterprises are beginning to move to the cloud.
For a while, it was looking like Azure was going to be the main enterprise play, followed by Oracle and IBM. It also seemed like Amazon and Google were going to be relegated more to the SMBs. In the last year, Amazon has made some huge strides in terms of attracting enterprise customers, including Johnson & Johnson, GE, Comcast, and Capital One. From an enterprise perspective, Amazon is definitely coming on very strong right now. That said, Azure and the other cloud providers certainly aren’t laying down. They are ramping up their competitive activities, as well.
DJ: What advantages can be gained from mergers and acquisitions within the cloud computing sector?
Matters: The competition in the cloud industry is very heated and the grab for market share is getting much more aggressive as they do everything they can to leverage their core competencies. We can see this in the acquisitions, as well as the level of investments that they are making in their cloud, new datacenters and their technology.
In many people's minds, Microsoft, Google, and AWS are the top three, but Oracle, IBM, and some of the other players continue to fight for some market share. It's definitely not a win for any single vendor and it's going to be a multi-vendor market for awhile, which is great for the consumer.
DJ: Why is a hybrid cloud strategy important?
Matters: We are not in a position where a single model of a solution is going to meet everyone’s needs, and enterprises can’t completely rely on cloud computing. That means there are going to be data center environments where the most secure applications are run in perhaps Intel X86 hardware, which you won’t find in the cloud.
But you also want some of those more sensitive applications to avail themselves of cloud technology, and you can do that in a private cloud. And, having an integrated solution across data centers, private clouds and public clouds is really what everybody is going to be developing. Then, you can apply your application to whatever environment makes the most sense from an economic perspective while also factoring in security and performance.
DJ: What other developments can we expect with cloud computing over the next couple of years?
Matters: I think we are going to continue to see vendors push Software as a Service (Saas) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) to try to lock in enterprises. It will be partially successful, but enterprises have learned in the past that they really don’t want to be locked-in. They want to avoid that kind of a situation, so there will be continued competitive pressure for different features and different servers. The next several years are going to be a torrent of activity.