CenturyLink-Savvis: Is The Rush To Cloud 1 + 1 = More Than 2 For Enterprise I&O?

Hot on the heels of Verizon’s acquisition of Terremark comes today’s $3.2 billion purchase of Savvis by CenturyLink, signaling that the rush to be an enterprise cloud leader is on.

It seems that during every major shift in the telecommunications, service provider or hosting market there is a string of moves like these as players attempt to capitalize on the change to gain greater market position. And there are plenty of investors caught up in the opportunity who are willing to lend a few bucks. In the dot.com period, through 2000s, we saw major shifts in the service provider landscape as colo/hosting giants were created such as Cable & Wireless and Equinix.

But what does this mean for infrastructure & operations professionals looking to select a hosting or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud provider? The key is in determining if 1 + 1 actually equals anything greater than 2.

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The Two Words You Need To Know To Turn On Cloud Economics

Everyone understands that cloud computing provides pay per use access to resources and the ability to elastically scale up an application as its traffic increases. Those are values that turn on cloud economics, but how do you turn cloud economics to your advantage?

That was the topic of my keynote session at the Cloud Connect 2011 event in Santa Clara, Calif. earlier this month. The video of this keynote can now be viewed on the event website at http://tv.cloudconnectevent.com/. You will need to register (free) on the site. In this short -- six minute -- keynote you will get the answers to this question. I also encourage you to view many of the other keynotes from this same event, as this was the first cloud computing conference I have attended that finally moved beyond Cloud 101 content and provided a ton of great material on how to really take advantage of cloud computing. We still have a long way to go, but this is a great step forward for anyone still learning about the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions and how they can empower your organization.

If you still aren't experimenting with these platforms, get going. While they won't transform the world, they do give you new deployment options that can accelerate time-to-market, increase deployment flexibility, and prepare you for the new economic model they are bringing to many early adopters today. 

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You Must Go Further To Get Private Cloud Right . . . But How Much Further?

 Lately it's starting to seem like private clouds are a lot like beauty – in the eye of the beholder. Or more accurately, in the eye of the builder. Sadly, unlike art and beauty, the value that comes from your private cloud isn’t as fluid, and the closer you get in your design to a public cloud, the greater the value. While it may be tempting to paint your VMware environment as a cloud or to automate a few tasks such as provisioning and then declare “cloud,”organizations that fall short of achieving true cloud value may find their investments miss the mark. But how do you get your private cloud right?

For the most part, enterprises understand that virtualization and automation are key components of a private cloud, but at what point does a virtualized environment become a private cloud? What can a private cloud offer that a virtualized environment can’t? How do you sell this idea internally? And how do you deliver a true private cloud in 2011?

In London, this March, I am facilitating a meeting of the Forrester Leadership Board Infrastructure & Operations Council, where we will tackle these very questions. If you are considering building a private cloud, there are changes you will need to make in your organization to get it right and our I&O council meeting will give you the opportunity to discuss this with other I&O leaders facing the same challenge.

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Which Applications Should I Move To The Cloud?

Forrester took more than a thousand inquiries from clients on cloud computing in 2010, and one of the themes that kept coming up was about which applications they should plan to migrate to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud platforms. The answer: Wrong question.

What enterprises should really be thinking about is how they can take advantage of the economic model presented by cloud platforms with new applications. In fact, the majority of applications we find running on the leading cloud platforms aren't ones that migrated from the data center but ones that were built for the cloud.

A lot of the interest in migrating applications to cloud platforms stems from the belief that clouds are cheaper and therefore moving services to them is a good cost-saving tactic. And sure, public clouds bring economies of scale shared across multiple customers that are thus unachievable by nearly any enterprise. But those cost savings aren't simply passed down. Each public cloud is in the profit-making business and thus shares in the cost savings through margin capture.

For enterprises to make the most of a public cloud platform, they need to ensure that their applications match the economic model presented by public clouds. Otherwise, the cloud may actually cost you more. In our series of reports, "Justify Your Cloud Investment" we detail the sweet spot uses of public cloud platforms that fit these new economics and can help guide you towards these cost advantages.

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Verizon Steps Into IaaS Cloud Leadership Ranks

Pop Quiz: What’s the fastest way to build a credible, enterprise-relevant and highly profitable cloud computing services practice? Buy one that already is. That’s exactly what Verizon did last week when it pushed $1.4B across the table to Terremark. Despite its internal efforts to build an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) business over the last two years, Verizon simply couldn’t learn the best practices fast enough to have matched the gains in the market it received through this move. Terremark has one of the strongest IaaS hosting businesses in the market and perhaps the best enterprise mix in its customer base of the top tier providers. It also has a significant presence with government clients including the United States’ Government Services Agency (GSA) which has production systems running in a hybrid mode between Terremark’s IaaS and traditional managed hosting services.

Confidential Forrester client inquiries have shown struggles by Verizon to win competitive IaaS bids with its computing-as-a-service (CaaS) offering, often losing to Terremark. This led to Verizon reselling the Terremark solution (its CaaS for SMB) so they could try before the buy.

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Is The IaaS/PaaS Line Beginning To Blur?

Forrester’s survey and inquiry research shows that, when it comes to cloud computing choices, our enterprise customers are more interested in infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) than platform-as-a-service (PaaS) despite the fact that PaaS is simpler to use. Well, this line is beginning to blur thanks to new offerings from Amazon Web Services LLC and upstart Standing Cloud.

The concern about PaaS lies around lock-in, as developers and infrastructure and operations professionals fear that by writing to the PaaS layer’s services their application will lose portability (this concern has long been a middleware concern — PaaS or otherwise). As a result, IaaS platforms that let you control the deployment model down to middleware, OS and VM resource choice are more open and portable. The tradeoff though, is that developer autonomy comes with a degree of complexity. As the below figure shows, there is a direct correlation between the degree of abstraction a cloud service provides and the skill set required by the customer. If your development skills are limited to scripting, web page design and form creation, most SaaS platforms provide the right abstraction for you to be productive. If you are a true coder with skills around Java, C# or other languages, PaaS offerings let you build more complex applications and integrations without you having to manage middleware, OS or infrastructure configuration. The PaaS services take care of this. IaaS, however, requires you to know this stuff. As a result, cloud services have an inverse pyramid of potential customers. Despite the fact that IaaS is more appealing to enterprise customers, it is the hardest to use.

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Cloud Predictions For 2011: Gains From Early Experiences Come Alive

The second half of 2010 has laid a foundation in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market that looks to make 2011 a landmark year. Moves by a variety of players may just turn this into a vibrant, steady market rather than today’s Amazon Web Services and a distant race for second. VMware vCloud Director finally shipped after much delay — a break from VMware’s rather steady on-time execution prior — and will power both ISP public clouds and enterprise private efforts in 2011. VMops changed its name and landed a passel of service providers; we’ll see if they live up to be the “.com” in Cloud.comOpenStack came out of the gate with strong ISV support and small ISP momentum; 2011 may prove a make-or-break year for the open source upstart. And nearly every enter

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Unlock The Value Of Your Data With Azure DataMarket

If the next eBay blasts onto the scene but no one sees it happen, does it make a sound? Bob Muglia, in his keynote yesterday at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference, announced a slew of enhancements for the Windows Azure cloud platform but glossed over a new feature that may turn out to be more valuable to your business than the entire platform-as-a-service (PaaS) market. That feature (so poorly positioned as an “aisle” in the Windows Azure Marketplace) is Azure DataMarket, the former Project Dallas. The basics of this offering are pretty underwhelming – it’s a place where data sets can be stored and accessed, much like Public Data Sets on Amazon Web Services and those hosted by Google labs. But what makes Microsoft’s offering different is the mechanisms around these data sets that make access and monetization far easier.

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Windows Azure Crosses Over To IaaS

At its Professional Developers Conference this week, Microsoft made the long-awaited debut of its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution, under the guise of the “VM-role” putting the service in direct competition with Amazon Web Services’ Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and other IaaS competitors. But before you paint its offering as a "me too," (and yes, there is plenty of fast-follower behavior in today’s announcements), this move is a differentiator for Microsoft as much of its platform as a service (PaaS) value carries down to this new role, resulting in more of a blended offering that may be a better fit with many modern applications.

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Free Isn't The Half Of It. AWS Pushes Cloud Economics Further

This week Amazon Web Services announced a new pricing tier for its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service and in doing so has differentiated its offering even further. At first blush the free tier sounds like a free trial, which isn't anything new in cloud computing. True, the free tier is time-limited, but you get 12 months, and capacity limited, along multiple dimensions. But it's also a new pricing band. And for three of its services, SimpleDB, Simple Queueing Service (SQS), and Simple Notification Service (SNS) the free tier is indefinite. Look for Amazon to lift the 12 month limit on this service next October, because the free tier will drive revenues for AWS long term. Here's why:

A few weeks back I posted a story about how one of our clients has been turning cloud economics to their advantage by flipping the concept of capacity planning on its head. Their strategy was to concentrate not on how much capacity they would need when their application got hot, but on how they could reduce its capacity footprint when it wasn't. As small as they could get it, they couldn't shrink it to the point where they incurred no cost at all; they were left with at least a storage and a caching bill. Now with the free tier, they can achieve a no-cost footprint. 

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