Cloud vendors: Who's cloud washing?

Amazon Web Services and its EC2 will remain dominant. Salesforce also leads as the rest of the field plays catch up to some degree.

ORLANDO---Amazon will remain the de facto cloud infrastructure standard at least through 2014, VMware's strategy is ambitious and other software giants such as Oracle and SAP are trying to buy their way into the market.

Those are some high-level takeaways from a Gartner Symposium presentation on Thursday. Gartner analyst David Mitchell Smith handicapped the cloud field.

The overall aim was distinguish between the cloud washers and the vendors committed to the cause. Here's an overview:

Amazon's EC2 will remain the de facto standard cloud infrastructure provider through 2014. Amazon has the partner ecosystem, is creeping into application infrastructure and the customer base to remain dominant.

Salesforce is an early leader in platform as a service and has a dominant CRM position. However, Smith noted:'s own strategy is not without challenges. Its programming and runtime environments are proprietary, most of its users are small businesses, and it is struggling to break out of the market niche of a CRM vendor. An early leader, may be an attractive acquisition target for a better diversified major software industry player. Whatever the endgame, is likely to help lead the industry out of the enterprise closet and into the open and agile era of cloud computing.

Google's App Engine is promising, but the company’s cloud offerings aren't layered together. Google Apps occupy the bulk of the search giant's cloud products and many applications don't use App Engine, said Smith.

VMware's vision is ambitious. "The company has acquired SpringSource, RabbitMQ, GemStone Systems, Zimbra and other innovative application and application infrastructure vendors, absorbing not only some important technology, but also some advanced middleware engineering talent," said Smith.


Microsoft's cloud strategy is defensive, visionary and pragmatic all at the same time. Smith noted:

Microsoft's approach to cloud computing via Azure is visionary and pragmatic affecting all Microsoft products over the next decade. However, it is also a defensive move as Microsoft faces increasing competition from "as a service" alternatives to its traditional software model.

Oracle and SAP will be cloud influencers. Oracle's initial vision equates to managed server virtualization, said Smith. SAP has bought its way into the market, has partnerships with Amazon Web Services and could move into application platforms resembling

IBM has the cloud covered on multiple fronts either through internal development or acquisition. Smith noted:

IBM's cloud computing is on four paths: (1) deliver a portfolio of IBM cloud computing services; (2) offer professional services to help independent software vendors (ISVs) design, build and deliver cloud application services; (3) offer professional services to help end-user firms integrate cloud services; and (4) deliver varied cloud-enabling technologies to providers or firms to create private cloud environments.

HP's cloud plans are ambitious, but the company will struggle with market perception as well as multiple approaches. HP will have data centers for enterprise cloud services in Germany, Singapore, France and Brazil. Public cloud delivered via U.S. data centers.