SaaS has been around for 20 years, cloud platforms nearly a decade. That must mean they’ve worked all the kinks out, right. You know better. There are wide variances in the maturity, stability and enterprise-readiness of the many cloud services categories. There are certainly differences between vendors within the same category, as demonstrated in each of our Forrester Waves, but there are significant differences between the many classes of cloud services. For example, internal private clouds are far less mature than their public counterparts and the desktop-as-a-service category continues to struggle to find its place in the market.
This is the reason Forrester created the Tech Radar. This class of report helps enterprise clients delineate between categories of services based on their maturity, adoption by other enterprise clients and helps ascertain the likely return on investment you can expect at its current level of maturity. The latest Cloud Computing Tech Radar, published this month on Forrester.com, plots each major category of cloud services along two axis:
The rise of the DevOps role in the enterprise and the increasing requirements of agility beyond infrastructure and applications make the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market one to watch for both CIOs and enterprise architecture professionals. On December 9, the membership of Cloud Foundry, a major PaaS open source project, announced the formation of the Cloud Foundry Foundation.
In my view, this is as important as the establishment of OpenStack foundation in 2012, which was a game-changing move for the cloud industry. Here’s why:
PaaS is becoming an important alternative to middleware stacks. Forrester defines PaaS as a complete application platform for multitenant cloud environments that includes development tools, runtime, and administration and management tools and services. (See our Forrester Wave evaluation for more detail on the space and its vendors.) In the cloud era, it’s a transformational alternative to established middleware stacks for the development, deployment, and administration of custom applications in a modern application platform, serving as a strategic layer between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) with innovative tools.
Cloud Foundry is one major open source PaaS software. Cloud Foundry as a technology was designed and architected by Derek Collison and built in the Ruby and Go programming languages by Derek and Vadim Spivak (wiki is wrong!). VMware released it as open source in 2011 after Derek joined the company. Early adopters of Cloud Foundry include large multinationals like Verizon, SAP, NTT, and SAS, as well as Chinese Internet giants like Baidu.
My January 2013 report “PaaS Market Dynamics in China, 2012 To 2017,” forecast that China’s platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market would remain in flux until 2015. But now I think it will take even longer for the cloud landscape in China to consolidate and stabilize, for three reasons:
1. The boundary between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and PaaS is breaking down.
2. Emerging technologies like Docker are having an impact on technology and mindsets.
3. China has emerging startups in both the IaaS and PaaS segments.
The startups mainly focus on differentiating the cloud user experience by automating various layers to deliver unique value to potential adopters of cloud solutions. They include:
QingCloud.Founded in 2012, QingCloud raised US$20 million in Series B funding in January 2014. Its IaaS offerings for public and virtual private cloud include computing (image and instances), network (VxNet, routing, elastic IP, and load balancing), storage (volume and snapshot), database (MySQL-based, master/slave synchronization support with auto-snapshot), security (group policy and SSH key pair login), and management features (web console to deploy, manage, and monitor resources), which are billed on a per-second basis.
Salesforce.com has two unequal brothers in the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) space. While force.com is the basis and natural extensibility platform for the core CRM system, the Heroku platform acquired at the end of 2010 addresses developers with open source stacks. The two of them could not be more different. Force.com is an application-centric PaaS that attracted a huge ecosystem building add-ons around Salesforce.com’s Sales, Service, and Marketing application. They all work together somehow because of the very limited freedom for developers. All apps usually start with the same canonical CRM data model, use the same data object store, use the same proprietary programing language (APEX), and use the same user interface techniques. That’s why force.com apps or add-ons fit nicely into the business buyer's perspective.
Microsoft is officially launching the commercial operations of its cloud offerings in China today. It’s been only nine months since Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, made the announcement in Shanghai that Windows Azure — now renamed Microsoft Azure — would be available for preview in the Chinese market.
I call that Episode I of the China Cloud War. In the report that I published at the time, “PaaS Market Dynamics in China, 2012 To 2017”, I made three predictions — predictions that are now being fulfilled. More global players are joining the war; customers have gotten familiar with cloud concepts and are planning hybrid cloud implementations for their businesses; and traditional IT service providers have started to transform themselves into cloud service providers.
I talked with Microsoft and Citrix last week, and I strongly believe that Episode I has ended and Episode II has just begun. In the battle for partner ecosystems and real customer business, here are the three major plots that enterprise architects and CIOs in China should watch unfold:
The thrree kingdoms will fight with the gloves off. In my blog post last year, I described three kingdoms of global vendors in Chinese cloud market: Microsoft, Amazon, and vendors behind open source technology like OpenStack and CloudStack.
Microsoft is leading the market as the first company in China to provide unified solutions for public cloud, private cloud, and hybrid cloud across infrastructure (IaaS) and middleware (PaaS). This builds on its deep understanding of enterprise requirements, its massive developer base, and the ease of use on the Windows platform.
Usually when a product or service shouts about its low pricing, that’s a bad thing but in Google’s case there’s unique value in its Sustained-use Discounts program which just might make it worth your consideration.
The entire cloud ecosystem in China is undergoing significant change. End users are getting more serious about adopting cloud solutions and ISVs are working with telecom carriers and partners to deliver mission-critical business applications in the cloud. My latest report, “Brief: Major Players Are Targeting The Chinese Cloud Market For Core Business Apps,” summarizes the overall trends of cloud adoption in China, looks at each vendor’s solution, and provides high-level suggestions. Specifically, I discuss:
General trends in SaaS adoption in China. Timing is very critical for market penetration. The survey results I share in this report show a dramatic increase in decision-maker interest in cloud-based offerings. This is probably the last chance for companies that want significant market share, but do not yet have it, to enter the Chinese SaaS market.
All of the major multinational vendors are moving. Global players have been closely watching the cloud market in China for years, and in 2013 they have made strategic moves. SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, and Infor have adopted different strategies in China based on the strengths and capabilities of their core product and solution offerings, technology stack, and partners. The report will tell you how each of these companies is working to address the Chinese market.
Local market leader practices. Large multinational vendors are not the only ones with skin in the game. Major local players in enterprise management software, such as Yonyou and Kingdee, are also working hard and have achieved significant progress in this space. The report will tell you what advantages their global peers need to have and which shortcomings they need to improve upon.
I know, more control is an axiom! But the above statement is more often true. When we're talking about configuration control in the public cloud it can be especially true, as control over the configuration of your application can put control in the hands of someone who knows less about the given platform and thus is more likely to get the configuration wrong. Have I fired you up yet? Then you're going to love (or loathe) my latest report, published today.
Let's look at the facts. Your base configuration of an application deployed to the cloud is likely a single VM in a single availability zone without load balancing, redundancy, DR, or a performance guarantee. That's why you demand configuration control so you can address these shortcomings. But how well do you know the cloud platform you are using? Is it better to use their autoscaling service (if they have one) or to bring your own virtual load balancers? How many instances of your VM, in which zones, is best for availability? Would it be better to configure your own database cluster or use their database as a service solution? One answer probably isn't correct — mirroring the configuration of the application as deployed in your corporate virtualization environment. Starting to see my point?
Fact is, more configuration control may just be a bad thing.
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.
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.