I was having a conversation with the CEO of a software company recently, and we got on the topic of cloud management. Of course, there are a number of ways this conversation could go, but we were largely focused on the adoption of specific cloud management platforms like Eucalyptus, OpenStack, and CloudStack. As the conversation drifted towards which product is suited for which business type, a light bulb went off in my little brain. During that momentary and fairly dim flash of light I had the realization that maybe the whole world hasn’t even accepted that a cloud management platform is necessary or important. Blasphemy!
Buyer type vs. demand and market adoption
I don’t have the actual numbers, but I’m hypothesizing that fewer than 30% of businesses have accepted or internalized the idea that they will need a mature and supported cloud management platform (CMP). While 30% is a big percentage, it isn’t the majority. I would also be willing to bet that the majority of the 30% are companies that tend to be forward thinking and developer oriented. If my assumptions are correct, that leaves
70% of companies not knowing why they need CMP or if they need it. These companies also have no plan or at least no effective plan for prioritizing, reviewing and then selecting a CMP solution. The common characteristic among many of these companies will likely be the difficulty in justifying the investment in making a solution fit their needs, when their growth and pace of change don’t demand it. In other words, ROI is difficult to capture.
When we talk about companies adopting one of the aforementioned CMPs we commonly refer to the name brands of Paypal (Openstack), Zynga (Cloudstack), or Sony (Eucalyptus). Each of those three company names helps to increase buyer confidence because they can see that forward thinking enterprises are adopting. However, what these company names don’t cover is to what extent the CMP is being used, and whether or not a 1/10th scale need would still provide ROI to the buyer. There’s a gap in industry messaging and buyer understanding among the three players discussed here. That gap relates to why a CMP isn’t just another HP Openview or IBM Tivoli. In the past the messaging around a product like Tivoli was, “We can solve all problems relative to monitoring, and reporting on your infrastructure and to some extent your applications.” While both of these legacy infrastructure tools were great, the vast majority of companies (I’d venture about 70%+) couldn’t justify the expense of the product, work effort to install, and on-going support. So what did they do instead, they got 80% of the benefit from 15% of the cost and overhead by installing something like What’s Up Gold or Solarwinds.
There needs to be better education available on what the customer can “really” do at their specific scale at this specific time in their history. Another way to address the issue would be to answer this simple question for the customer, “Where and when will I fail if I’m not using a CMP?.” Even with proper education I don’t think the 30% number will change that much for buyers of either OpenStack or CloudStack. However, the opportunity for a product like Eucalyptus to bite into the 70% is quite real. I believe the opportunity is real for the simple reason that most companies have VMware, and if they’re on the smaller side are likely to be looking to Amazon for some of their cloud needs.
I could add even more complexity to this discussion by talking about where solutions like ServiceMesh (CSC) and Entratius (Dell) fit on top of this equation. Instead, I’ll just point to a past blog on the strategic rather than tactical nature of your cloud management choices.
I’m a believer
I strongly believe that a well-managed cloud environment is critical to success at many levels including ROI, risk mitigation, security, ease of deployment, and vendor choice, etc. However, I also believe that there isn’t a one size fits all cloud management solution and today the big three to select from are OpenStack, CloudStack, and Eucalyptus. While OpenStack and CloudStack fit neatly in very similar territory (SPs, Large enterprise, web scale environments), Eucalyptus fits a little more neatly into the everyday buyer category. The trick for Eucalyptus at this point will be determining the best way to represent a complex, but easily consumable solution to a group who believes they only have simple needs.
Professionally copy edited by Kestine Thiele (Imkestinamarie)