Designed as a helicopter ride over the new technological landscape that cloud computing is, this report places the development - and inevitability - of cloud computing in context and strikes a series of insights and observations that support its central thesis, that a tipping point is approaching and that the implications will be felt across many sections of industry.
Just how profound these changes will prove to be remains to be seen but the report offers a pithy assessment and its conclusions may make uncomfortable reading for players ranging from entrenched telcos to software vendors.
The report predicts that by late 2009, Cloud Computing will be on the agenda of the CIO of every forward looking organization that is responsive to changing technologies. According to one investment bank, Cloud Computing is a USD 100 billion opportunity.
Enterprises now more than ever desperate to seize on technologies that will accelerate service delivery, reduce costs and offer competitive advantage are already turning to assess Cloud strategies. The cost arguments for moving to the cloud are becoming more measurable and concrete; big-iron providers of IT products and services are beginning to identify cloud as a priority and the surge in consumer adoption of cloud computing through the use of Yahoo! Mail, Flickr or Google Docs, even though they may not be aware they are doing so, collectively demonstrate new data points and the progress of Cloud so far.
Cloud will also impact existing hosting and data centre services. Hosting has become global. As bottlenecks in backbone Internet links disappear, local hosting companies are discovering that their local market has suddenly become internationally competitive. Data Centres will need to compete in their greenness and efficiency against cloud offerings. Yet whatever benefits accrue to data centre owners, their customers, or their new cloud competitors, Cloud is still in the process of transition and much will depend on the emergence of new services from companies that may not yet exist.
That cloud computing is not a single market is reflected in the complex player segmentation which the report describes with profiles and an analysis of their competitive positioning now. Broadly players focus on infrastructure, platform, services and applications although other niches exist, and some players occupy positions in several segments. This will continue to change as new players emerge and product developments underway such as VMWare's Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS) for example are deployed. Much therefore remains to be played out but in the meantime Google App for example and Amazon Web Services are standout products.
Moving Cloud forward will also need enterprise buy-in. While it is usually the job of top management to hold back the enthusiasm of their software and hardware experts, cloud computing is unusually different and may well require them to push their technology departments faster than they would instinctively want to go, and to give them the confidence to take risks they might otherwise shy away from. This report aims to help in this process.
Cloud players will compete for customer base directly with established telco, data centre, ISPs, web hosters and software vendors yet such is the versatility of the technology that each could themselves adopt a cloud strategy whether as a passive investment, or as an active player. But only for a time. The development of cloud markets will be impacted by the global recession, but this report suggests that the timely breathing space this may represent will be short lived and understanding cloud now is a prerequisite for every Enterprise in exactly the same way that Internet websites should have been perceived at the outset.