It’s not easy to be a public cloud vendor these days. The public cloud world has been undergoing serious consolidation in the past few years. Amazon, the pioneer of the cloud, has been keeping a clear lead, while Microsoft and Google have been pulling in, utilizing their accumulated experience, global data centers and software platforms, and positioned themselves as next in line. Together this trio serve the vast majority of the workloads running on public cloud.
So what’s their answer? I’d say it’s threefold:
- Multi-cloud model: If you can’t beat them, join them. Support Amazon, Microsoft, Google public clouds. If done via a good generic platform, it can help avoid vendor lock-in.
- Hybrid model: mix the public cloud support with support for private cloud and bare-metal to offer public-private-hosted hybrid approach.
- Private model: concentrate on strictly private cloud. The popular open-source project OpenStack is a leading candidate for this strategy. This approach is useful for the customers insisting to run things on their own premises.
HP (now HPE), after shutting down its public cloud, moved to a hybrid cloud strategy with a series of acquisitions and by endorsing OpenStack private cloud open source project. Verizon went for the private cloud approach.
An interesting case is Rackspace, which eased off on its own cloud and managed services, and started offering third-party support for the public clouds of Amazon and Microsoft, leveraging its Fanatical Support brand. Also, in parallel to supporting leading public cloud vendors, Rackspace keeps its longstanding support of private cloud deployments based on OpenStack, the popular open-source platform which it co-founded.
Rackspace’s strategy seems to have hit well. quarterly results published this week show quarterly revenue $518 million, up 7.9% from the year-ago-quarter. Executives noted Rackspace’s success was buoyed particularly by a growing number of Fanatical Support customers for its Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS) offerings as well as customers on its OpenStack private cloud.
Hybrid cloud strategies gain traction with enterprises. While Amazon, Microsoft and Google try to convince enterprises to go all-in on the public cloud, it’s too big a change to swallow for most. Even Microsoft realized that hurdle and tried bringing its Azure cloud to the enterprise’s datacenter. Hybrid cloud seems to have demand, and may also be the focus of those who failed to take the lead in the public cloud.
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