Rackspace Starts A Process Microsoft Just Finished

James Staten

With Satya Nadella now warming the CEO seat at Microsoft, executive recruiters can shift their attention to another cloud leader — Rackspace — who bids adieu to its 14-year leader, Lanham Napier. While both companies are clearly cloud platform leaders chasing the same competitor, the similarities in the top job stop there. Rackspace's needs in a CEO center more around how it tells its story than concerns about its strategy. 

Where Microsoft is struggling to ensure its ongoing relevancy in a world that is shifting away from the desktop and the on-premise enterprise, Rackspace has strong cloud credibility. Its issues are more around the fact that it isn't a cloud pure play, isn't another managed services cloudwasher, isn't an incumbent enterprise IT supplier, and no longer runs OpenStack. So if you're looking for companies to compare it to in order to value its stock, there aren't good comparisons. And if you’re looking for metrics to use to judge its success, the ones being disclosed don't paint a rosy picture. If you want to understand Rackspace, you'll have to really understand the company and why it isn't what it isn't. So let's start there:

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Cloud Computing Predictions for 2014: Cloud Joins the Formal IT Portfolio

James Staten

In 2013 enterprises got real about cloud computing. In 2014 we will integrate it into our existing IT portfolios - whether IT likes it or not. The moves by DevOps and line of business aren't going to stop and can't be ignored. So 2014 will be the year IT Ops relents, stops fighting and gets with the program formally by developing real strategies for embracing the cloud, managing cloud-based application deployments and empowering the business to keep being agile. As the Age of the Customer arrives, all the focus shifts to the Systems of Engagement and the agility in refining these critical customer tools. Cloud technologies and services represent the fastest way for the business to reach new buyers and breathe new life into aging applications. In 2014 cloud leverage will be both traditional and disruptive as the business and IT put cloud to work.

Below are the top ten cloud actions we predict will happen in enterprise IT environments in 2014. Recommendations for what Forrester clients should do about these changes can be found here. Our predictions are:

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CenturyLink May Finally Have Figured Out the Cloud

James Staten

After a couple less-than-home-runs in the cloud game, it looks like CenturyLink might just have a real contender. The US midwestern telecommunications leader pulled the trigger on yet another acquisition this morning - Tier 3, a legitimate cloud platform provider. The real question is whether this is the latest in a long string of acquisitions that have failed to hit the mark, or a sign that they finally got it right.

CenturyLink is a Lego company built through a string of acquisitions all bolted together. It rolled up several telecom players to get to its current size and presence in that market. And it has bought now three cloud companies. 

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The "Three Kingdoms" Of The Public Cloud Market In China

Charlie Dai

The classic work of Chinese historical fiction “Romance Of Three Kingdoms” describes the history of China after the Han dynasty. This work focuses on three power blocks that fought against each other in an attempt to be the dominant kingdom. After my discussions with many users and vendors at the OpenStack Summit 2013, I see an analogy between these three kingdoms and the evolution of the IaaS market in China as I described it in my report “PaaS Market Dynamics In China, 2012 To 2017” early this year.

Three categories of players are emerging in public cloud market in China, and similar to the Three Kingdoms, these players will fight against each other and collaborate at the same time, accelerating both the adoption and the maturing of cloud solutions in Chinese market.

  • State of Shu: Amazon Web Services. The king of Shu was the descendant of Han dynasty before the era of the Three Kingdoms; because of his “royal blood,” he had many supporters and followers to fight against the other two kingdoms.

Amazon.com is in a similar situation: It has very good reputation among architects and developers in China. However, Amazon’s promotion activities are lagging. Amazon is trying to expand its cloud territory into Chinese market by building a data center in Beijing and recruiting local personnel. However, its relationship with the government is not as good as Microsoft’s, and Amazon’s ambition to launch AWS in China has been slowed down due to local regulations.

  • State of Wu: Microsoft Windows Azure and its alliances. The state of Wu is competitive because it has the natural advantage of the Yangtze River, helping it defend against invasion and expand its territory.
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Are cloud platforms saying goodbye to the hypervisor?

James Staten

OpenStack, CloudStack, Dell, IBM SoftLayerand othersare pushing a new agenda in cloud computing, one that eschews the hypervisor. Is this the future of cloud platforms or just another feature?

So far the latter seems to be the prevailing trend as the majority of public cloud platforms and private cloud software solutions start with the foundation of server virtualization. The bare metal options are being positioned more for two purposes:

  • Auto-provisioning new nodes ofthe cloud - bare metal installation of the cloud solution and the hypervisor

  • New compute resource types inthe cloud - using new automation capabilities to add a complete physical server to a customer’s cloud tenancy, as if it were just another virtual machine.

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Adobe proves that the cloud is good for IT Ops

James Staten

Adobe Systems is a pioneer and fast mover in the public cloud and in so doing is showing that there is nothing for infrastructure & operations professionals (IT Ops) to fear about this move. Instead, as they put it, the cloud gives their systems administrators (sysadmins) super powers ala RoboCop.

RoboCop 2014This insight was provided by Fergus Hammond, a senior manager in Adobe Cloud Services, in an analyst webinar conducted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) last month.  Hammond (no relation to Forrester VP and principal analyst Jeffrey Hammond) said that Adobe was live on AWS in October 2011, just 8 months after its formal internal decision to use the public cloud platform for its Adobe Creative Cloud. Prior to this there were pockets of AWS experience across various product teams but no coordinated, formal effort as large or strategic as this.

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What the CIA Cloud Does and Doesn't Tell Us

James Staten

Much has been written about the US Government Central Intelligence Agency's award of its private cloud business to Amazon Web Services and the subsequent protest and government ruling on this award, but much of the coverage leaves out a few pertinent and key facts. Let's look at the key questions being debated about this proposed contract:

Q: Is this a private cloud? AWS said it doesn't believe in private clouds.

A: Yes, despite AWS' protests to the contrary, this is a private cloud. According to the documents that have thus far been made public from this proposal, the CIA is looking for a cloud service (an Infrastructure as a Service) offered on a dedicated set of resources isolated to a specific customer and deployed on CIA-owned resources from within a government owned and operated facility. 

Q: Would this be AWS' first private cloud?

A: Yes and no. Yes, it would be the first implementation of the AWS services atop a customer-owned infrastructure and facility asset base. But no, it would not be the first time AWS has delivered an isolated environment offering its services. AWS's GovCloud is also a private cloud for the greater US Government. FedCloud is operated from an AWS-owned facility on AWS owned assets.

Q: Is this a community cloud? What's the difference between that and a private cloud?

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Embedded connectivity adds new spin to Colt's IT offering

Dan Bieler

Dan Bieler, John Rakowski

Recently we attended a Colt Technology Services analyst day in London. It was great to see a technology services provider who is trying to embrace both disruptive ICT trends and challenges facing enterprise IT. Here is a high level summary of our views from the event:

Dan: Colt views its network assets not as its key differentiators - but its IT services. Although IT services today account for only a small fraction of Colt revenues, Colt views its network infrastructure assets as a means to an end to support IT services. Whilst we agree that network infrastructure runs the risk of commoditisation, Colt’s network helps to differentiate Colt’s offering from both IT service providers without network infrastructure and carriers with a less impressive network footprint. Quality network infrastructure is the basis for developing reliable, secure, and compliant ICT solutions. Maybe Colt ought to view itself more as a communications integrator than an IT Services provider.

John: Colt’s provides a strong European IaaS offering. One of the presentations focussed on Colt’s European datacenter footprint. At Forrester we get many inquiries on hosting and IaaS-specific options for Europe as many clients have to address regulatory and business requirements for data to reside in specific countries. Colt has a substantial number of data centers in European countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.

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Embedded Connectivity Adds New Spin To Colt's IT Offering

John Rakowski

Recently Dan Bieler and I attended a Colt Technology Services analyst day in London. It was great to see a technology services provider who is trying to embrace both disruptive ICT trends and challenges facing enterprise IT. Here is a high level summary of our views from the event:

  • Dan: Colt views its network assets not as its key differentiators - but its IT services. Although IT services today account for only a small fraction of Colt revenues, Colt views its network infrastructure assets as a means to an end to support IT services. Whilst we agree that network infrastructure runs the risk of commoditisation, Colt’s network helps to differentiate Colt’s offering from both IT service providers without network infrastructure and carriers with a less impressive network footprint. Quality network infrastructure is the basis for developing reliable, secure, and compliant ICT solutions. Maybe Colt ought to view itself more as a communications integrator than an IT Services provider.
     
  • John: Colt provides a strong European IaaS offering. One of the presentations focused on Colt’s European datacenter footprint. At Forrester we get many inquiries on hosting and IaaS-specific options for Europe as many clients have to address regulatory and business requirements for data to reside in specific countries. Colt has a substantial number of data centers in European countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.
     
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Forrester Wave: Public Cloud Platforms -- The Winner Is…

James Staten

…not that simple and therefore not always Amazon Web Services.

First off, we didn’t take what might be construed as the typical approach, which would be to look either at infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings. We combined the two, as the line between these categories is blurring. And historical category leaders have added either infrastructure or platform services that place them where they now straddle these lines.

Further, many people have assumed that all developers will be best served by PaaS products and ill served by IaaS products. Our research has shown for some time that that isn't so: 

  1. Many developers get value from IaaS because it is so flexible, while PaaS products are generally too constraining.
  2. The -aaS labels overlook the actual capabilities of the services available to developers. All PaaS products are not the same; all IaaS are not the same.
  3. Not all developers are the same. Devs will use the services (PLURAL) with the best fit to their skills, needs, and goals.
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