Local vendors challenge global players in our analysis of Europe's public cloud market

Paul Miller

Europe from space

Public Domain image of Europe, derived from NASA World Wind data, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons.

The hyperscale global clouds seem to crop up pretty much everywhere, these days. But we all know that customer requirements differ, from industry to industry, and from country to country. So... how do they cope, and how do we account for the peculiarities of different markets?

Today, we publish our latest take on the public cloud platforms market in Europe: The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms In Europe, Q4 2016Read the report itself, or sign up for my 3 November webinar to learn more.

The report (my first Wave, so allow me to feel pleased with myself) is, of course, interesting and useful in and of itself. But what's more interesting, perhaps, is that it's part of a collaboration that allows Forrester to account for those regional quirks.

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Vertical clouds - less useful than you're meant to believe, but still useful

Paul Miller

How often have you been told you can't use a mainstream public cloud provider? Quite often, probably, especially if you happen to work in a regulated industry like banking or healthcare. And what justifications are you given? The regulator "won't let you," no doubt? That's a good one. And "it's not secure" is often pretty close behind. Either that, or the argument that generic public cloud infrastructure can't possibly meet your very special, very unique, very carefully crafted mix of requirements?

Sadly, despite the frequency with which they're trotted out, these attempts at justification stand a pretty good chance of being either hearsay, or just complete nonsense.

It's easy not to change, and to justify your inertia with reference to the scary, punitive, hopelessly luddite regulator.  It's easy to continue lovingly polishing the hideously complex snowflake your internal computing environment has become. It's far harder to look at the truth behind the hearsay, and to work out when doing something different might — or might not — be the better approach for your business, and its effort to win, serve, and retain customers.

My latest report, Bespoke Vertical Clouds Become Less Important As Public Clouds Do More, takes a look at some of the rationale for using vertical cloud solutions in these situations. Often — but definitely not always — you may discover that a generic public cloud provider will do the job just as well. Or maybe even better.

Valuable services lurk behind confused marketing of 'managed cloud'

Paul Miller

(Confusing messages. Image by Wikimedia Commons user 'Melburnian')

Again and again, we hear examples of companies struggling as they try to realise the benefits of moving to cloud. They know what they want to achieve as a business, they know that cloud can help, but they cannot translate that understanding into the way they specify, procure, and run the technology.

There are plenty of organisations willing to help, offering everything from design and migration services through to management of infrastructure and applications on an ongoing basis. Even in the public cloud world, it's easy to find companies eager to take your money, and then start and stop workloads on your behalf.

But, as the blurb for my latest report states,

"Cloud computing changes the way that applications are designed, built, and run. It is often part of a broader organizational change, as enterprises move to embrace digital opportunities. Providers of managed cloud solutions need to recognize this shift: They must do more than simply run a customer’s computers. But CIOs seeking a trusted partner to assume this broader role find that too many managed cloud offerings fail to rise above basic management of infrastructure."

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After Brexit, it's business as usual for most of Europe's public cloud workloads

Paul Miller

The flags of the European Union and the United Kingdom

(source: Wikimedia Commons)

Two weeks on, the result of the UK referendum on membership of the European Union (EU) continues to reverberate around the world. Forrester provided advice for clients needing to understand the business implications. Looking at the specific impact on public cloud deployments in Europe introduces a number of additional points. These are best considered in three separate contexts:

  • that of companies wishing to serve customers in the UK
  • that of companies wishing to serve customers in the remaining 27 EU member states (the EU27)
  • that of companies wishing to serve customers in the EU27 from a base in the UK.
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Established Chinese cloud providers hope to succeed in Europe's public cloud market

Paul Miller

When we think about the public cloud, the list of credible providers can sometimes seem rather short.

(The Great Wall of China. Source: Paul Miller)

In North America, Europe, and elsewhere, the same few names tend to dominate. But not in China. There, big local brands continue to command impressive market share. And now they're looking to expand into new territories, including Europe.

Huawei hardware and Huawei's distribution of the OpenStack open source cloud platform power T-Systems' Open Telekom Cloud. This was launched, with some fanfare, at CeBIT in Hannover. 

Alibaba Cloud, which leads the Chinese public cloud market, is also coming to Europe this year.

In my latest report, I take a look at what both Alibaba and Huawei bring to Europe's public cloud market, and ask whether they can repeat their domestic success in this market.

TL;DR - it would be unwise to discount either of them.

Are providers adapting to managed services for the megaclouds in 2016?

Robert Stroud

“Enterprise-Cloud”, reality or marketing term?

First we need to define what we mean by “enterprise cloud”. For this definition, the minimal criteria set includes: robust security, reliable performance, disaster recovery, growing set of services, constantly investing and a great and growing ecosystem of partners.  Based on this definition (along with the tremendous growth in public cloud), then all of the public cloud leaders are indeed “Enterprise-class”. In short, the term "Enterprise-class" is fundamentally a term targeted to allay the cloud fears of enterprise technology managers.

Providers are adapting to offer managed services for the megaclouds.

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Microsoft and T-Systems Find Innovative Solution To Address Customer Data Privacy Concerns

Paul Miller

The big public cloud providers, most of which are still from the United States, sometimes have a hard time finding ways to balance their legal obligations at home with the quite different sensitivities they encounter amongst their new international customers. For a long time, the toolkit has been pretty consistent: site data centres as close to the customer as possible, vehemently support political efforts to harmonize laws, and ocassionally be seen to stand up to the worst execesses of Government over-reach.

Photo of German and European flags in Berlin, from Flickr user Luigi Rosa
(Source: Flickr user Luigi Rosa. Image licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License)

Microsoft's announcements in Germany today appear, on the surface, to follow that model pretty closely. But there's a twist that's potentially very important as we move forward.

First, the standard bit. Microsoft, yesterday, announced new data centres will be operational in the UK next year, joining existing European facilities in Dublin and Amsterdam. Big competitor Amazon did much the same last week, announcing that a new UK data centre will be online in the UK by "2016 or 2017." Given the vague timescales, it might be easy to assume that Amazon was trying to steal a little of Microsoft's thunder with a half-baked pre-announcement. And then, today, Microsoft announced two new data centres in Germany. Amazon already has a facility there, of course.

So, why's this interesting? 

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OpenStack Pushes Local Stories In Tokyo

Paul Miller

I was in Tokyo last week, for the latest OpenStack Summit. Over 5,000 people joined me from around the world, to discuss this open source cloud project's latest - Liberty - release, to lay the groundwork for next year's Mitaka release, and to highlight stories of successful adoption.


Tokyo's Hamarikyu Gardens combine old with new (Source: Paul Miller)

And, unlike many events, this wasn't a hermetically sealed bubble of blandly anodyne mid-Atlantic content, served up to the same globe-trotting audience in characterless rooms that could so easily have been in London, Frankfurt, or Chicago. Instead, we heard from local implementers of OpenStack like Fujitsu, Yahoo! Japan, and - from just across the water - SK Telecom and Huawei. 

In keynotes, case studies, and deep-dive technical sessions, attendees learned what worked, debated where to go next, and considered the project's complicated relationship to containers, software-defined networks, the giants of the public cloud, and more.

My colleague, Lauren Nelson, and I have just published a Quick Take to capture some of our immediate impressions from the event. As our report discusses, the Foundation is making some good progress but there are a number of clear challenges that must still be addressed. How well do you think the Foundation is addressing the challenges we discuss?

Amazon Web Services Pushes Enterprise And Hybrid Messages At re:Invent

Paul Miller

The hordes gathered in Las Vegas this week, for Amazon's latest re:Invent show. Over 18,000 individuals queued to get into sessions, jostled to reach the Oreo Cookie Popcorn (yes, really), and dodged casino-goers to hear from AWS, its partners and its customers. Las Vegas may figure nowhere on my list of favourite places, but the programme of Analyst sessions AWS laid on for earlier in the week definitely justified this trip.

The headline items (the Internet of Things, Business Intelligence, and a Snowball chucked straight at the 'hell' that is the enterprise data centre (think about it)) are much-discussed, but in many ways the more interesting stuff was AWS' continued - quiet, methodical, inexorable - improvement of its current offerings. One by one, enterprise 'reasons' to avoid AWS or its public cloud competitors are being systematically demolished.

Not headline-worthy, but important. And, as I and a number of my colleagues note in our Quick Take view on this week's show, AWS is most definitely turning up the heat. Frogs, we're told, don't know they're being boiled alive if you just turn up the heat slowly. CIOs, hopefully, are paying more attention to the warmth of AWS, all around them.

China’s Cloud Collaboration Market Enters A New Age

Frank Liu

Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity suite, Office 365, is now generally available in China through a partnership with 21Vianet, China’s largest carrier-neutral Internet data center service provider. This announcement follows the recent launches of Microsoft Azure and SQL Server 2014.

The public cloud market in China will grow from $297 million in 2011 to $3.8 billion in 2020. The three segments of the virtual private cloud market will grow from $44 million in 2011 to $1.6 billion in 2020. More and more Chinese customers use cloud collaboration SaaS or plan to do so, expecting it to revolutionize their business. What should I&O pros and CIOs in China know about Office 365?

  • Local teams ensure timely responses. 21Vianet has 300 engineers to provide hardware and software service and support for Microsoft Azure and Office 365. For emerging technologies, large Chinese organizations and government agencies like to have local engineers available to quickly solve their problems rather than using a service hotline or remote support.
  • Chinese customers can choose the services they want.Companies and government agencies wishing to purchase Office 365 have a range of tiered pricing options with different functionality, including only buying one Office 365 service — say, SharePoint, Exchange Online, or Lync. As Chinese organizations normally run collaboration applications on-premises, they won’t give up legacy infrastructure, preferring to test public cloud services on a small scale first. For example, TCL uses on-premises email and Office software, so it’s only buying Lync and SharePoint services to improve efficiency instead of completely migrating to a public platform.   
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