Cloud Computing Market Trends 2012

Although 2012 is barely two months old, the cloud computing landscape already evinces some important new trends related to the market appetite for cloud products and services. Whereas 2011 witnessed the proliferation of new market entrants that established or consolidated their branding, the market for cloud computing services has matured in 2012 to a point where the battle lines are beginning to be drawn as the actors take their place at the table. On one hand, the market for cloud computing products and services has exploded at a dizzying pace, leading to an increasingly variegated market landscape that differentially competes in price, features, support, portability and support for compliance standards. But despite the proliferation of venture backed new market entrants, the boundaries of the battle for cloud computing market share have been redrawn with unmistakable precision as follows:

1. Amazon Web Services versus OpenStack

The rising popularity of OpenStack has thrown down the gauntlet to Amazon Web Services and proprietary cloud solutions more generally.

Amazon Web Services consolidates its positioning as the leader in cloud computing market share by adding feature after feature to its dizzying array of cloud computing products and services. Less than 50 days into 2012, Amazon Web Services announced Amazon DynamoDB for Big Data processing, a partnership with CheckPoint for cloud security, as well as agreements with Red Hat to host its Virtual Storage Appliance for Amazon Web Services and the Red Hat MRG Enterprise cloud services via Red Hat Cloud Access.

OpenStack’s fortunes continue to soar, fueled both by the allure of its inter-operable framework and the cost-savings enabled by open-source software, even in its commercialized form. Even though the dent in Amazon Web Services market share from OpenStack deployments is likely to be miniscule, at this point, OpenStack takes the cake in terms of organic publicity and its attractiveness as the basis of a business model based on an alternative to proprietary cloud solutions. OpenStack is gearing up for its Essex release in the second quarter of 2012. Separately, its ability to integrate with third party automated provisioning software such as Chef, Puppetlabs and RightScale is both impressive and promising.

Rackspace occupies a unique position in relation to the emerging battle between Amazon Web Services and OpenStack as the purveyor of a proprietary public cloud solution and distributor of a commercialized version of OpenStack for private clouds.

2. Proliferation of OpenStack-based, enterprise grade private clouds

Coincident with the rise of OpenStack is the proliferation of enterprise-grade deployments of OpenStack for private clouds. The market has witnessed a veritable cottage industry of companies dedicated to commercial-grade OpenStack deployments that feature automation, management tools, cloud security and support for regulatory standards such as FISMA, HIPAA and other government regulations. Vendors that have commercialized OpenStack include Citrix Systems, Dell, HP, Internap, Nebula, Piston, Rackspace and Cloudscaling. Rackspace recently announced a partnership with Redapt to facilitate deployment of private clouds based on OpenStack.

3. Growth of PaaS vendors and platforms

As noted by Gartner’s Yefim Natis, the Platform as a Service vertical stands poised for explosive growth in 2012. PaaS appeals to enterprises that lack the technical resources to manage complex IaaS deployments even though they typically need to install a PaaS infrastructure within a private cloud environment. PaaS provides an easier on-ramp to the cloud for enterprises that are anxious to begin deploying applications into a cloud-based infrastructure. The PaaS market currently features products such as OpenShift (Red Hat), Cloud Foundry (VMware), CloudSwing (OpenLogic), Engine Yard Cloud (Engine Yard), Heroku (Salesforce), Azure (Microsoft), Google App Engine (Google), Cumulogic PaaS (CumuLogic), dotCloud, Appfog, ActiveState Stackato (ActiveState), AnyCloud (CloudBees) and Jelastic. Engine Yard’s revenue of $28 million in 2011 illustrates the earning potential within the PaaS vertical.

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