During this week's Parallels Summit 2009 in Las Vegas, CEO Serguei Beloussov showed that his company had been engaging in a little IT meteorology over the last year by giving us some food for thought on the way that the clouds are parting in the highly consolidated virtualisation space.
As 'removed' compute resources are rapidly being pulled through their adolescence, we can see that much of this technology is growing up a lot faster than we might have guessed as recently as perhaps only 18-months ago.
Beloussov used his keynote platform to suggest that virtualisation is rapidly becoming a mainstream element of the IT stack in large-scale corporates and, perhaps most crucially of all, SMBs of comparatively modest size in some cases.
“Virtualisation is very much a computing reality now. It is actually becoming harder to get truly new customers,” said Beloussov – suggesting that there is a need for differentiation in this space before adding, “Most SMBs do not need grid!”
Addressing an audience of software developers, SaaS specialists and service providers of all shapes and sizes, Beloussov described today's five-tier structure within the cloud computing market (as he sees it) in the following terms:
• Cloud Type 1: The Google cloud. Truly massive, huge data centres, heavily hardware dependent, unmatched in many senses.
• Cloud Type 2: The Microsoft cloud. Also massive, less hardware dependent, more user-fueled at its heart.
• Cloud Type 3: Other super-size large clouds, among the largest being IBM and Apple, but also including EMC, HP, Amazon, Facebook, Adobe etc.
• Cloud Type 4: Channel clouds of service providers, telcos, ISPs, SaaS ISV, web hosters etc
• Cloud Type 5: In-house clouds of large companies, serving subsidiaries, departments, affiliates and sometimes employees and partners.
Looking to the future, Parallels says that IT engineers using cloud computing resources will demand greater service and flexibility. Putting some colour on that statement, the company suggests that customers will demand that their cloud computing service provider become more of a one-stop-shop.
According to Parallels, customers will want cloud resources that support: business class email, office applications (or virtual desktop environments) and line of business applications – and they will want these to be differentiated from one vendor to another (so they can pick and choose) and be flexible for different customer workloads. Developers working for companies providing these differentiated services may already be thinking about these market developments. They may even be helping fuel the momentum for this direction.
If you were wondering where Parallels' tools come into play in this market, the company says its products help the automation process needed to make the commercial front end of virtualised service provision viable. “Don't develop a billing system for this proving hosting technology, just use ours and concentrate on increasing your average revenue per customer,” the company says. Indeed, one of the session tracks was entitled, “Build vs. Buy.”
“The cloud is becoming real and the giants are moving in,” said Beloussov. “Bringing the cloud down to Earth now, but making sure that we do not create a fog when we do this, is the way to go. Do not get carried away with over-hyped grids and do not try and copy the giants, instead use the cloud to provide technology that is appropriate to you and your company's needs,” he added.
The feeling among the partners at this week's show is upbeat – and that may not just be because we are in the desert in the middle of winter. Companies big and small from Microsoft and downward (in terms of size and market muscle perhaps) are here and they are happy to align to these trends.
End note: you can already see the creative blog headlines by the time we see nine layers in the cloud computing market can't you?