The rapidly expanding and maturing cloud industry on demonstration at Cloud Connect makes me believe that 2011 will be “The Year of the Cloud”. By this, I mean 2011 will be the breakout year for cloud computing, in which understanding and adoption of this new technology – and money and resources pumped into the sector – will expand exponentially.
Cloud Connect, held this year at the Santa Clara Convention Center on March 7-10, is becoming one of the premier cloud events in this rapidly growing market. The event is designed to bring together the entire cloud ecosystem, which includes the essential cloud management segment, as well as the cloud providers themselves. This was a great opportunity for companies from large enterprises to SMBs to learn more about what cloud product and service offerings are out there, and what they really need to do to make cloud a reality in their business.
The following are some of the interesting, changing facets of the cloud market I witnessed at this year's Cloud Connect conference:
Large Companies Show Greater Interest in Cloud
There is no question that interest in cloud, and related technologies such as cloud management, are growing at an accelerated rate, and the attendance at Cloud Connect is another metric that supports this fact. UBM Techweb, the show's producer, expected 3,000 attendees, and more than 3,300 showed up – a 66% increase over last year. The show floor also sold out with 73 exhibitors, doubling in size over last year.
We saw a number of larger companies starting to show genuine interest in the cloud space. Cloud is becoming very real to them. For example, giants like Cisco and Intuit were present at Cloud Connect. They were not exhibiting, but had teams visiting booths and finding out more about the industry.
We had seen some interest from large enterprises over the past few years, but it had always been clear that they were at least a year away from any involvement. That sentiment seems to have changed. Now they're looking at cloud more seriously than ever before.
For some large companies, this means migrating to the cloud and leveraging cloud management tools. There are still some perceived issues relating to security and compliance, but most of the larger enterprises seem to understand that the cloud providers are working on addressing those concerns.
For other large companies, however, greater interest in the cloud market means acquisitions of cloud-related companies, and more investments in the space. This level of interest from large corporations did not exist even one year ago.
More Cloud Opportunities for SMB Market
Cloud is not just for large enterprises, however. We talked to some consolidators who are using cloud management tools to provide managed cloud services directly to the small and medium sized business (SMB) market. They consolidate multiple small businesses into one management platform, allowing them to lower the price point and make cloud attractive to smaller companies. That is something that was not prevalent last year either.
Importance of Cloud Management is Key
At Cloud Connect this year, it was evident that everyone is seeing cloud management as the new IT service management. Cloud management is key to making the cloud work. Even though cloud makes virtualization easy, there is still a huge problem because once you have all these resources at your disposal it becomes very hard to manage. Managing thousands or even hundreds of thousands of virtual machines has become an extremely complex task. I think that is one of the key points that the larger enterprises are starting to see, that they did not see in the past, and that is why they are starting to embrace the value of cloud management.
We are seeing increased interest in cloud management from cloud service providers as well, and Rackspace's recent acquisition of Cloudkick, a cloud monitoring and management provider, is a revealing example of this. Overall, however, it does not seem that most cloud providers will be taking on the management of cloud as an additional initiative, which leaves a huge opportunity for companies like Skydera to provide the essential functionality needed to manage the cloud.
The event also showed that even SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) providers are more interested in cloud management, wanting to gain better insight into how their infrastructure is performing, and ultimately improve the end-user experience.
Companies Gain Better Understanding of Cloud
I think this is the year that people are really going to understand what cloud is and how powerful it can be. Everyone is beginning to understand that this is not a fad. In general, we noticed that people seem to have a tremendous understanding of cloud now, much better than a year ago or even six months ago. They comprehend the difference between cloud service providers and cloud management, and they have a better idea where these technologies fit in.
Cloud Market Will Expand Even More
Cloud will grow way beyond anything we are seeing now, and Cloud Connect is just one more demonstration of that fact. Virtualization has been around for years but this is the first time that virtualization is actually accessible to the masses – and that is a big game changer. With cloud, anyone can get into virtualization, without requiring millions of dollars in capex like it did before.
And even though we have seen money being pumped into the cloud space, this has been a relatively small amount compared with the enormous sums of money that will be pumped in over the next couple years. We are still in the first phase of this massive experiment.
About Lecole Cole
Lecole Cole is the CEO and Founder of Skydera, a centralized platform to manage multiple-vendor cloud and hybrid environments. He has 14 years of experience in the design, development and global market introduction of advanced technologies, working for companies such as WindSpring, Tele Atlas and Mapsolute.