Nebula Is A Quantum Leap In Cloud Computing Industrialization (1/2)

Commoditization and economies of scale drive cloud computing. We've seen before what commoditization means to the IT industry: It stimulates standardization and consolidation to serve a volume market. The success of x86-based CPUs, which dominate everything from data centers to high-performance computing, is a common example. In the software industry, commoditization raised standards and led to the commercial adoption of open source.

 

It is impossible to imagine a corporate data center without Linux. Even if it’s not used under the core applications, Linux is present in web servers, routers, firewalls, and storage appliances. Upcoming cloud computing providers face increasing price pressures and must therefore provide greater economies of scale than the majority of corporate data centers. They use Linux heavily as an operating system today.

But open source goes beyond Linux for cloud providers. Many providers of public cloud services (or the more local flavor of virtual private clouds) have realized that developing a full cloud computing management stack requires significant software development efforts. Some of the leading midrange cloud providers, such as Rackspace, as well as several cloud component vendors (such as cloud billing systems) support an open source initiative called OpenStack. The goal is to provide a full cloud management stack based on open source for cloud providers and large-scale corporate data centers, such as NASA. What a Linux distribution was for a traditional server, OpenStack is for a full cloud provider business model, regardless of privacy level — public, private, or virtual private.

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Nebula Is A Quantum Leap In Cloud Computing Industrialization (2/2)

The Nebula appliance announced today jumps right into this space and provides a standardized hardware configuration for OpenStack implementations. It offers scaled-out compute power based on commoditized x86 CPUs and standardizes a configuration of switches and other components to glue a large number of these CPUs together. The new VC-backed startup will thus compete head to head with EMC’s Vblock and Microsoft’s Azure appliance; neither of these are based on open source, and the latter isn’t really on the market yet.

But Nebula is more than just a hardware deliverable. Its mission is to transparently standardize the cloud hardware stack. Basically, it’s nothing more than the complex specification Microsoft worked out with its hardware partners (Dell, Fujitsu, and HP) to deliver the Azure appliance to local cloud providers and large-scale private clouds. However, Nebula’s openness is the differentiator; it reminds me a bit of IBM’s approach around the original personal computer back in the 1970s. Sure, it enabled hardware competitors to produce compatible PCs — but it also brought mass adoption of the PC, outperforming Apple over four decades.

 

If Nebula delivers a compelling price point, it has an appealing approach that could gain significant share in the growing cloud hardware market. If the new company aims to spur a revolution similar to that of the PC, its founders need to tweak their strategy soon:

 

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Sizing The Cloud

Today, Forrester has published its report “Sizing The Cloud”. This report applies Forrester’s sizing methodology for emerging markets to the cloud computing market for the first time. This methodology allows us not only to apply our growth assumptions to the current numbers for cloud markets, but also to take into account when those markets will hit saturation and see commoditization, affecting the price of a cloud service over time. The result? The first serious attempt to size the cloud computing market for the next 10 years.

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Cloud Computing Disrupts Business Models: Fujitsu Reacts With A PaaS Strategy For ISVs

Forrester’s Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010 has quantified for the first time how enterprise demand is shifting from traditional licensing models to subscriptions and other licensing models, such as financing and license leasing. However, the shift to subscriptions for business-applications-as-a-service is the major driver of this change. Traditional enterprise licenses are slowly decreasing, and Forrester predicts that subscriptions for SaaS applications will drive alternative license spending up to 29% — as early as 2011. This demand-side change goes beyond front-office applications like CRM. In 2011 and 2012, enterprises will opt for “as-a-service” subscriptions for more back-office applications, such as ERP, instead of licensed and on-premise installations. Detailed data cuts by company size and region are available to clients from our Forrsights service.

Base: 622 (2007), 1,026 (2008), 537 (2009), and 930 (2010) software decision-makers predicting license spending for the coming year
Source: Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q3 2007; Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q4 2008; Enterprise And SMB Software Survey, North America And Europe, Q4 2009; Forrsights Software Survey, Q4 2010

 

 

 

What does this means for existing independent software vendors (ISVs) and infrastructure vendors?

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Will T-Systems Be Competing With Amazon Soon?

With its latest public cloud offering, T-Systems not only comes close to Amazon’s EC2 pricing, it might even be cheaper than Amazon. The €4 billion, German headquartered IT services firm announced today a public beta running from November 2010 to February 2011.

Although Amazon recently made a time-bombed version of its EC2 available for free, a real, unlimited service still costs in the range of $0.095 per hour for a small server of one core with 1.7 GB RAM in Europe. Last week, Forrester had the chance to look at a beta version of T-Systems’ public cloud offering. Although no pricing has been announced officially, the beta showed the price for a virtual machine of a similar size to the aforementioned Amazon machine starting at €0.2/hour. T-Systems inidcated that they even like to go below the Amazon pricing! T-Systems has been working for more than a year with cloud provisioning tools from Zimory to manage the virtualization of larger-scale server and landscape compositions. Leveraging this experience, T-Systems manages to drive efficiency even further than the current economies of scale, which makes this aggressive move possible.

Is T-Systems planning to seriously compete with Amazon in the future and does it make sense for a traditional large enterprise IT services and hosting firm to compete with low-price public cloud offerings?

T-Systems’ public cloud beta shows a continuous memory sizing in a state-of-the-art self-service portal.

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Larry’s Elastic Cloud And Marc’s False Cloud

Oracle’s keynotes and salesforce.com’s presentation next door have never been more confusing and contradictory for large users than they were today. Larry Ellison gave the 41,000 attendants of this year’s OpenWorld a cloud computing 101 session prior to the launch of the new EXALOGIC appliance, a machine engineered to run the Oracle Fusion Middleware stack very efficiently. After he rejected talking about the cloud for years, he swung over to the opposite end of the spectrum. Even though EXALOGIC is mainly aimed, in its first version, at private data centers, Larry simply renamed the virtualized data centers as private clouds and promised customers that they will get an elastic cloud with the help of the EXALOGIC box.

On the other side, salesforce.com’s Marc Benioff called every server on premise the “false cloud,” basically implying that something like a private cloud is simply a stupidity in itself.

Who is right or wrong in this debate? Is Larry simply doing cloud-washing at its best, or is Marc running a “false marketing” campaign, calling everything except his own cloud the “false cloud”?

Let’s understand how Forrester believes a private cloud differentiates itself from a traditional but modern and virtualized data center:

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Trust.platform.com — How To Communicate SLAs In The Cloud?

Today Informatica announced the availability of a trust site similar to what other major cloud platforms like salesforce.com (trust.salesforce.com) and NetSuite (with its availability status) have done before.

Informatica also added more enterprise-level connectivity and a 24x7 support to its cloud offering, thus making it more enterprise ready than ever.

Let’s have a look at these trust.platform.com sites for a minute and analyze the value of this new way of communicating availability:

Screenshots:

 Trust.InformaticaCloud

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Trust.salesforce.com

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NetSuite

It actually looks like the industry is moving away from the traditional service-level agreement (SLA) communication, with its well-defined statistical availability number of 99.9%, 99.995%, etc. I believe that this makes a lot of sense for most cloud computing platforms in the SaaS and PaaS category, as I noted in my recent blog on cloud computing taxonomy

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Software AG On The Critical Path

Software AG announced today a significant change in their executive structure. After the acquisition of webMethods back in 2007, the second largest software vendor in Germany acquired IDS Scheer last year, at topic we explored already in this report

If you follow Software AG over this time, you might realize that the way CEO Karl-Heinz Streibich runs a post merger process may involve dramatic disruptions in the executive structure of the company. Dave Mitchell, the former webMethods CEO left some months after that acquisition. Today, the Chief Product Officer, Dr. Peter Kürpick surprisingly left the company. Peter was a member of the executive board since 2005, and, although his contract officially runs until 2013, he is leaving at his own request immediately. He stood for the successful turnaround of Software AG’s product strategy and repositioned Software AG from an outmoded mainframe shop into a leading global integration player. The successful merging of Software AG’s mainframe and integration know-how with the newer webMethods product stack into one interoperable integration stack was one of Peter’s major achievements. Peter also took over the responsibility for Software AG’s ETS (mainframe) product strategy after the integration business reached a solid stability. He would have had the skills and experience to create a consistent technology stack spanning from the mainframe over the WebMethods integration up to the business architecture tools of IDS Scheer (ARIS).

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Selling The Cloud

Many cloud computing services in the consumer space are per se for free. Even sophisticated platform-as-a-service (PaaS) environments are coming from most vendors with a free sandbox environment and start charging finally the productive use. The obvious question I hear from many vendors today is how to monetize platforms and applications in the cloud. The situation for established ISVs of business applications can be even worse: The cloud might significantly cannibalize existing license revenue streams. Thus a transformation of existing business models and vendor strategy is anything but easy.

Addressing this challenge, I'd like to point you to a Forrester workshop Selling The Cloud” on 30th September in London.

The workshop will focus on a evaluating your “cloud readiness” and consequently help develop your cloud strategy through the use of a self assessment tool. This is a great opportunity to learn an effective method for improving the business results of any migration to a cloud-based service. You can actually predict which, if any, of your products will be successful in a cloud deployment.

The workshop will be hosted by Stefan Ried, Senior Analyst at Forrester and in case you’re interested, here’s a Web page with an agenda: View Workshop Details.

You can register right on the site or, if you’d like more information, you can contact an Event Sales Representative at +1 888/343-6786 or events@forrester.com

You can also simply leave a comment to this blog, asking any question to the event agenda and value.

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Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

We just published a new report entitled "The Evolution Of Cloud Computing Markets". It recaps many of the cloud computing market observations from the last two years and categorizes the business models in a consistent taxonomy. Basically all current offerings from pure Infrastructure as a Service, in the upper left, via virtualization tools up to SaaS applications can be categorized by this. We explain the key characteristics of each business model and give vendors guidance to position and communicate their cloud service.

Forrester's Cloud Computing Taxonomy

Beyond the preview on this blog, the full document predicts the future market momentum around:

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