This is the final post of this series and this year. After talking about the winners and losers of 2009, let me briefly talk about some of the cloud computing providers who are neither the winners nor the losers in the year ending today. The fortunes of these companies could go either way based on various market conditions, their strategies, execution, etc..
Microsoft: The winner of the previous desktop computing era is struggling hard in this era of cloud computing. Well, they are not struggling hard in terms of their cloud offerings. After trying to resist cloud computing initially and dismissing it as a non starter, they came around to offer a compelling set of services that has the potential to get the enterprises excited. There is no doubt about the market potential for their Azure based services but I have placed them in the neutral category for entirely different reasons. This only happens to very few companies in this world. Their success in the cloud era is directly dependent on the loss of their existing cash cow. The issue is not about whether Microsoft can win the cloud game. If they go all out in the market, they will definitely emerge as a winner. The issue is about how they can win the cloud game while killing the products that are currently filling up their coffers. The very success or failure of Microsoft in the cloud era depends on how they are going to manage this situation. Remember, Microsoft has too much fat in terms of employee number to be agile in the cloud era. Trimming this fat will put a dent on the employee morale and will make Microsoft unattractive for younger talents. This, in turn, will make it difficult for Microsoft to innovate in the fast moving cloud marketplace. Already, people are talking about whether the old age of Microsoft employees are affecting their ability to innovate. This is a tricky situation and the very success of Microsoft is dependent on how they overcome this dilemma. On the SaaS Office Suite side, Microsoft is clearly going to end up on the losing side as they cannot fight the free offerings from Google and Zoho (disclaimer: Zoho is an exclusive sponsor of Cloud Ave).
Joyent: Joyent has been offering infrastructure for web applications even before many of us heard the term cloud computing. To defend themselves against the onslaught of what we now call as cloud economics, from players like Amazon Web Services, Joyent repositioned themselves by offering highly optimized vertical offerings like MySql Accelerator along with others like Cloud Control and Joyent Smart Platform. At one point, it appeared that Joyent can attract startups and medium enterprises with products like MySql accelerator. Sadly, Amazon gave a big blow with the release of Amazon RDS, affecting Joyent’s very selling point on MySql Accelerator. With a partnership with Zeus and fresh infusion of cash, Joyent isn’t going anywhere in the near future. But their long term success will depend on how they position themselves in the coming year.
Open Cloud: There were some hopes for openness in cloud computing during 2009 but nothing significant hasn’t materialized in terms of standards. The idea of open cloud got unexpected support from Microsoft. But Microsoft speaks a different language when they are down and faced with the difficulty of catching up the leader compared to the language they speak when they are in a dominant position. I wouldn’t give so much importance to Microsoft’s call for openness. However, the open cloud evangelists should be worried about VMWare’s embrace of cloud computing. Their dominance in the enterprises has the potential for making openness, in its purest form, irrelevant in the cloud marketplace. It is time for vendors like Amazon and Google to push openness wholeheartedly. Otherwise, we will be waging another battle in the later part of the next decade much like what we waged against Microsoft in the desktop era.
Before I wind up this post and the series, I want to post this rhetorical question as a salute to my fellow members of Clouderati, in general; and to the torch bearer of openness among them, in particular :-).
Have a fabulous 2010 folks. Let it rain in the world of cloud computing in 2010.