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Understanding cloud opportunities, challenges

Posted: 10 Nov 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:cloud computing? data center? server hosting? virtualization?

Will Microsoft, Google be the 1k-pound gorillas of the cloud?
Will Microsoft dominate the cloud as it does the PC? The odds are it will not, but it will be a key player. Microsoft has the strength of brand and Windows-based applications for both servers and workstations, as well as deep operating system experience. But history says the company that dominates one revolution in technology does not dominate the next.

IBM in mainframes did not dominate the PC world even though it had the first business PC. Why did IBM not dominate? They did not value the power of the operating system because on the mainframe it was not an issue. On the PC the operating system made all the difference, it enabled Microsoft to create a platform that could be migrated to non-IBM computers while still letting off-the-shelf applications work. It was game over for IBM and Microsoft took the PC world by storm.

In this report
??How cloud computing started
??What drives the cloud
??Breaking IT dependence to solve a business problem
??Virtualization enables the cloud
??Accelerating development, delivery of new apps
??Private vs. public cloud computing
??Which cloud vendors will rise to the top?
??Yes, there are risks
??The risks are worthwhile
??Will Microsoft, Google be the 1k-pound gorillas of the cloud?

Then came the Internet, which Microsoft ignored in the early days and never really got right despite a tremendous effort. Microsoft failed to dominate the Internet because the rules changed, the operating system was open, and with the advent of HTML, almost anyone could write applications or design Web pages. Microsoft could not provide compelling proprietary advantage and companies like Google took over. Google did not depend on operating system control, they depended on Internet control, knowing what is where on the vast database of the Internet.

The same will hold true for the cloud. Microsoft's desktop application strength does not matter on the cloud as the paradigm is too different and too much change is required. Their operating system strengths do not matter because they are now behind the curtains. The "ease of use" and "single platform to code for" nature of Microsoft servers is no longer relevant. Microsoft's server virtualization is generations behind VMware's and that is key to the cloud.

Microsoft will surely be a key cloud player with Azure, the .NET development platform and its server applications ported to the cloud, as well as its trusted brand. But it will not be the dominant player.

Google has a head start on Microsoft with its search dominance along with Gmail and a host of cloud-based applications. Beyond search, however, Google is not dominant, and it could be possible that its approach to the cloud is not the winning approach. Google does not have a systems background like VMware or Microsoft, so it depends on open-source operating systems, giving it weakness in back-end innovations. That alone prevents it from complete cloud domination, as server-on-demand is a big part of the cloud.

Google does not have a partner model like VMware or Microsoft, so it needs to fight all the battles on its own. In the cloud world that is okay to a point, but it gets harder and harder as companies start to deploy solutions and they need local trusted advisors and product advocates to show them the way. Even on the Web, it still takes a human to sell things to IT people. Microsoft and other vendors will match Google Apps as there is no long-term defensible position for Google in that area. This leaves Google as a strong cloud player, and it will find a way to balance itself with Microsoft, but it is unlikely that Google will be the dominant player in the cloud.

There is no clear dominant player in the cloud. It could be VMware or another rising star, it may be someone we are not yet aware of, or it may stay open like the mobile phone industry. If this occurs, it will enable the same level of innovation that is occurring in the mobile phone world, helping the cloud to come strong and fast.

- Terrence Lillard
??Digital Forensics for Network, Internet and Cloud Computing


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