I love this time of year because it is one of those rare occasions during the corporate and product development process where creative ideas and concepts designed to stimulate future success enter the entrepreneurial blood stream. It is that rare moment where you have the benefit of an entire year of business fresh in your mind to build upon and an entire new year ahead of you to set new standards and push the envelope of success.
For our company and for the industry, 2010 was a huge year. We completed our Series A round of venture financing, relocated the company to the coveted North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus and tripled the size of our team. Meanwhile, the industry took meaningful steps toward maturity as mainstream private sector businesses and governments of all shapes and sizes began giving IaaS a very serious look. If 2010 was the year of formal organization, 2011 will be the year of some serious and meaningful growth. Not just for our company and our technology, but for the IaaS market as a whole.
In a post I wrote recently I did my best to explain some of the core characteristics that would be central to IaaS achieving mass adoption as the technology revolution marches forward. While I think it’s very difficult for anyone to offer up accurate predictions for the year ahead of any fledgling market, there are some specific ‘themes’ that I think, as we look back a year from now, will have clearly emerged as bell weather trends in the industry.
To borrow a format from Peter King, one of my favorite sports writers, here are the six things (6 things, 6fusion, get it?) I think I think (for the cloud biz in 2011):
- Hybridization Will Prove Critical to Enterprise Adoption. I’ve been to the edge and back and I have a few words of wisdom to share with my peers about the Enterprise cloud. Unless what you are doing bridges a gap between what exists inside the four walls of the enterprise data center and what might safely and securely exist outside of those four walls you are just another GUI in the Red Ocean peddling the same wares we’ve seen for years. Hybridization is something enterprise buyers will use to separate the crème from the crop in 2011.
- Regional Clouds Unite. The arms race among regional managed hosting providers to beef up for cloud services was evident in 2010. But the silo approach to building up IaaS on a regional basis will prove difficult if not impossible to compete on scale – and it won’t take long to figure this out. In 2011 expect to see the concept of broad-based IaaS federation become a much more prominent theme as owners of regional facilities and compute partner to create scale and increase market size in the quest to truly monetize their resources and compete with the national players.
- The Ecosystem is Bigger Than the Organism. The IaaS industry is beginning to realize that the creation and quantification of IaaS demand is much more important than the creation of supply. Its one thing to have the capability to power or enable the creation of IaaS resources, but it is entirely another to drive revenue and margin to the cloud. The emergence of business ecosystems will be a consistent theme for the coming year because partnering is the key to success in a nascent market. In 2011 you will see more and more eyebrow-raising deals announced based on ‘synergistic’ partnerships – partnerships that drive mutual revenue and margin between companies that are bound by the common interest of leveraging, distributing and powering IaaS.
- It’s All About the Channel. Building a global business tackling one end-user customer at a time doesn’t scale if your business is supposed to compete with the market pioneers. In order to generate a serious outbound push to globalize IaaS the cost of business acquisition will be too high for almost every player. In 2011 IaaS vendors will wake up to the fact that they need help in order to scale revenues and ultimately generate the ROI they are promising shareholders. Queue the channel gold rush.
- Communities Will Emerge. I subscribe to the notion that one day every business in every vertical will consume a form of public cloud – but we are not anywhere close to this reality. Large scale IaaS operated by a trusted third party and made available to a select group of common-interested stakeholders is a concept that has legs. Trust me on this one. Building out community clouds will emerge in 2011 as one of, if not the most important, concepts to help accelerate IaaS adoption.
- A Course Will Be Charted for an IaaS Futures Market. If you don’t subscribe to the notion that the final destination for this ride is a commodity exchange for compute, stop and take a look around. Spot markets emerged in 2010, much to the surprise of many industry pundits. But spot markets, as novel as they are, do not a true market make. The real money and the real opportunity are in futures trading. There are forces at work on this as I type away, and although you won’t actually see compute on a major exchange in 2011, do expect to see this theme to creep it’s way into mainstream IaaS thinking.
Ok, so with the predictions for themes and threads out of the way, I’ll conclude this post with the 6 things I’ll be watching closer than my wallet at a pick-pocket’s convention as 2011 progresses:
- Shifting Big Iron: Companies like HP and IBM have yet to emerge with serious IaaS plays and if you read the tea leaves they won’t any time soon. I’ll be watching to see if any of the whales in the pool make a splash in the IaaS business.
- Processor Plays: Intel made huge moves in the cloud in 2011 and you don’t need your tarot cards out to see where they are going. Anyone know what AMD is thinking these days? I’ll be watching to see if this gentle giant makes any moves that can rival thier kool-aid-drinking-all-in-pot-committed competitor.
- Government Clouds: The GSA announced a major IaaS initiative announcing a schedule of vendors that could be purchased from their schedule. But will these IaaS vendors truly make any money this way? I’m not so sure. My personal opinion is that the money is at a different level of the Public Sector. Can’t wait to see!
- Hypervisor Competition: KVM is rocketing up the relevance chart. No doubt. I’ll be watching to see how VMware plans to keep it’s toe-hold on the hypervisor market as IaaS enablement begins to drive more and more purchasing decisions.
- Network Providers: The accelerated adoption of cloud services will put a big piece of the pie squarely in the hands of the network operators. I will be watching to see how Network operators jockey to position themselves. I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion that operators will follow the lead of companies like BT and DT.
- Disclosure Watch: As more and more private sector orgs make the move to the cloud, the greater the potential that something somewhere is going to go wrong. I will be keeping a watchful eye on key disclosures and cloud failures which could dramatically stunt the industry’s pace of growth.
6fusion’s first webinar of our 2011 series called: “Make your 2011 New Year’s cloud Resolution Now”. I’ll be elaborating on some of these points and drilling down into how service providers can drive new business to kick the session off. Come join the discussion!
Posted in Commentary
Tagged 2011 predictions, 6fusion, channel, cloud computing, cloud hosting, cloud service, iaas, IT Channel, john cowan, MSP, uc6, utility computing, VAR, wac
New York, Hamilton Bermuda – December 13, 2010 – Meridian Global Fund Services Group, a leading fund administrator, is pleased to announce that it has implemented a managed hosting solution which moves their core IT infrastructure and data into a secure cloud environment.
Meridian has partnered with 6fusion, a leading cloud hosting provider who has developed a consumption-based billing model allowing hosted infrastructure to be billed as a utility through their solution partner network; and Ignition, an international IT managed services provider. 6fusion developed the managed hosting and consumption metering platform for Meridian while Ignition acted as the IT consultant in the set up process and will provide ongoing resources as needed.
“This initiative has significantly improved our scalability as a global fund administrator and has solidified our disaster recovery solution,” said Eric Smith, Senior Vice President of Information Technology at Meridian Global Fund Services. “We now have the capacity to manage our data needs and realize value from improved performance, improved reliability and lowered cost.”
”We are very excited about the strategic partnership with Meridian Global Fund Services,” said Rob Bissett, Vice President, Product Management at 6fusion. “Through 6fusion, Meridian is leveraging a distributed data network that provides access to significant resources and the ability for virtual unlimited scalability and growth. Our utility metered model contributed to Meridian migrating to the cloud.” The 6fusion data centre is a state-of-the art secure facility with SAS 70 Certification.
“We look forward to supporting Meridian’s migration in Bermuda with a 24/7 help desk, quality assurance, managed services, and proactive network monitoring,” said Michael W. Branco, Senior Vice President, The Ignition Group of Technology Companies. ”Meridian has stepped ahead of its competitors by choosing a hosted infrastructure solution and managed IT services allowing them to concentrate on the core competencies of fund administration rather than managing their own day to day IT.” Ignition supports 5,000 plus users in 32 countries.
In the Perezian sense, as the fervor and hype of a technology revolution gives way to a new technological paradigm – a new order, if you will, to the way in which we perceive and do things – there is tremendous disruption among the supply chain participants across entire industries. Within this disruption there is equally tremendous risk and potential reward. It is this change process within which we often refer to clichés phrases like ‘survival of the fittest’ and ‘the crème rising to the top’, etc.
Without a doubt, cloud computing – or the idea that I can get all the computing power whenever I need it, wherever I need it, scale up and down on demand paying only for what is consumed – is going mainstream faster than anyone expected. And you don’t need to consult Gartner or Forrester to figure it out. Just tune in to any NFL football game on the weekend and spot the slick new IBM advertisement on TV! (I felt like calling my Mom in Canada and asking her to tune in, since she’s been asking me for five years exactly what it is I do for a living!).
Mainstream media advertising aside, the real impact of cloud computing is still developing and will be for a while now.
As methodologies and best practices for IT deployment align with fundamental technological changes (such as that represented by the idea of cloud computing), empires built on old-world processes and systems can come crumbling down. Witness the profound directional changes dumped onto companies like Microsoft in recent years. The existence of companies like Amazon and Google, purveyors of all things cloud, and Salesforce, the grand poobah of SaaS, have literally forced the largest software maker on the planet to change its direction completely or risk its prestigious 30 year reign of relevance to consumers. I’m not one of the Chicken Little pundits that think Microsoft’s days are numbered. Far from it. But the changes coming from MSFT these days are arguably like none other in its history.
At 6fusion, we see four critical groups in the supply chain that will live or die with the sea-change of cloud computing. Those groups include:
- The Channel (IT Service Providers)
- The Network Providers (ISP, Telecoms companies)
- The Hardware Manufacturers (Dell, HP, IBM, etc)
- ISVs (Independent Software Vendors)
Here is what I find amazing about these four groups: The pendulum for the next several years will be wild and dramatic. Embrace change and potentially ride a revenue wave like you never thought possible. Resist change, and leave your fate to chance. Maybe I need a bit more excitement in my life, but I personally think a front row seat to this action is the best ticket in town! Here are just a few of the major league questions facing industry stewards:
- Managed Hosting Providers and purpose-built SaaS companies want to own the end user customer relationship. The cloud represents the biggest disintermediation threat in recent memory. How will the modern IT Service Provider stave off the biggest threat since Dell’s direct model in the 1990’s?
- The network is the most commoditized resource in cloud delivery. As the role of the modern network provider changes, some of the big telecoms firms have decided to become cloud service providers in order to reach beyond the packet for revenue. What are the risks inherent with Telco’s playing in the cloud space? How can Telco’s and ISPs leverage their position as a key raw material component of the cloud to position themselves for a more profitable future?
- The days of competing on logos and laurels are dead and buried. In a new world where the purchase and supply of hardware is being driven by ROI, footprint reduction, more support for less money and hyper-efficient supply chain logistics, will the big iron shops be agile enough to compete? What are the implications for the big firms that decide to inter the cloud computing service fray, going head to head with other market entrants, possibly even existing clients?
- SaaS is clearly the future business model for the delivery and licensing of business-value software. But two facts remain: 1) getting there takes a complete overhaul of legacy systems, the kind that represents massive strategic shift and 2) the world is full of legacy systems, contrary to the hype cycle in the industry. Where is the bridge between the old order and the new order for software companies and how will they cross it?
Most that know us know our technology is beginning to play a key role in the future direction of these supply chain participants. We develop technology with an eye for making computing simpler, which removes proprietary silos that only serve to slow down the realization of a world where cloud computing methodologies are included in standard deployment best practices for IT.
Over the next several weeks I plan to dedicate some blog space to each of these core groups and unfold a bit of what 6fusion has been up to as we continue our quest to deliver the promise of this new technology to the widest audience in the cloud.
I’ve been off the radar in recent weeks as things around 6fusion have been busy, but few weeks ago we blogged about the Profiler application we’ve been working on. I’ve just come up for a bit of air on the project but while I was in the thick of things we unearthed an interesting sample of real life, multi-faceted, cloud impact. I thought it was worth sharing and my IT Director friend at the company I’m about to tell you about said it was ok to share a tidbit with the world (Special thanks, S.).
Before I get into some of the details of this post, let me give you a little snapshot of the Enterprise operation we’ve been working with:
Location: Caribbean/Latin America
Industry: Financial Services
Data Centers Operated: One internal/One co-lo
Main Challenges: The client faced infrastructure budget restrictions, which stresses application time to production cycles. In addition, the customer needed to reduce the cost of protecting mission critical systems without compromising their established RPOs and RTOs. Most importantly, certain data and applications could not be operated in North America for compliance/regulatory reasons.
Like many IT leaders today, the IT Director of this company was looking to the cloud to potentially address their business requirements.
Using 6fusion’s Profiler technology currently in controlled beta, the customer was able to determine a projected cloud computing cost application by application across their enterprise. Here is a snapshot of their live data output:
What we find intriguing about the report capabilities we’ve enabled is that we are helping the customer cross the cloud chasm by using dollars and cents as the vessel. We believe the price to value ratio trumps even the most innovative of technologies in almost every purchasing decision. So it stands to reason that if you can’t tell a customer ‘what it costs’, you are pretty much just selling to yourself.
Cloud computing is no different.
Newly armed with valuable information about the cost of running their EXISTING production applications in active and passive states in the cloud, the IT Director could make confident business decisions that not only met his technical objectives, but also the objectives in his counterparts in the Finance Dept.
An interesting observation about integrating 6fusion into the enterprise is that our technology helps to blur the line between public and private cloud infrastructure. By turning the client’s own infrastructure into a self-contained cloud (or private cloud) using the same algorithm that powers our public cloud offering, we can effectively create a permanent economic bridge between the two environments (and like a real bridge, it can support free-flowing two-way traffic).
So here is how this individual client is using this economic bridge to drive cloud migration priorities for their organization: They identified a set of workloads they urgently need infrastructure to perform vital test and dev processes. Inexpensively and safely, they can operate those workloads in cost-reduced resources located in the U.S. Next, they identified two mission critical systems – Exchange and SQL – that they can duplicate leveraging the public cloud infrastructure located in the Caribbean/Latin America region. This is critical for the customer because things like email and databases must remain in certain jurisdictions only (excluding the U.S). This issue transcends many enterprise cloud deployment scenarios and the subject has is getting a lot of coverage lately.
The end result for the client:
They achieve public cloud leverage at a financial pace they can handle out of the gate and in the future
They effectively doubled their data center footprint to include utility resources located in the U.S and Caribbean/Latin America regions
Because of the ability to cloud profile, they can make periodic future cloud migration decisions in lock step with the constraints put on by the Finance Dept
With a cloud profile, they know cloud costs well before they spend time and resources tapping into and testing a public cloud
They maintained data residency integrity – a crucial show stopper for any cloud consideration in the past
They have a public cloud infrastructure that runs both their web oriented apps as well as their line-of-business apps, eliminating the need for cloud-silos.
The future for this client, like many others we’ve begun to collaborate with in recent months, is rooted now in cloud efficiency. Here are some of the questions 6fusion and its partners will help address for IT operations:
How can I make my current production applications scale more efficiently so that I can reduce my cloud costs prior to migration?
How far can I push the public / private cloud integration envelope?
Using the cloud like a pure utility, what workloads can I power down during off peak to shrink my cost footprint?
How do my applications in cloud perform against category benchmarks from 6fusion’s ecosystem?
UC6 Profiler is in beta. If you’ve got an interesting set of business circumstances and a serious need to contain or reduce your or your customer’s IT Ops costs, give us a holler.
For the past several months the team at 6fusion has been working directly with a select group of customers using a prototype software tool called the UC6 Profiler. The UC6 Profiler is an agent we created that uses our patent-pending algorithm for measuring utility computing consumption. The UC6 Profiler meters live client applications running in their own offices or data centers, recording resource usage as though the applications were all running within 6fusion’s federated cloud infrastructure. The report output paints a clear cost picture, application by application, giving the customer an unprecedented set of data to guide and support their decision to migrate any or all applications to the cloud. We’ve provided an example of the output report here. It’s early stages yet for this, so the info is pretty raw. We’ll ‘gloss it up’ when it goes into production later in the year.
In our experience, the number one customer question about the cloud is “what does it cost.” Like others in the field, we see the ability to profile consumption and report running costs to be one of the missing links to cloud computing adoption. As you can see in the sample report provided, this customer can identify that the application called “CUSTMAIL01” would cost the ‘most’ to run in the cloud. Conversely, the application called “CUSTAAC001” would cost the least.
Going beyond the customer implications, the UC6 Profiler could also be the missing link for the IT Service Provider community to truly take the reins of the cloud and leverage it to build significant new revenue opportunities. But the implications don’t stop there. Profiling can play a huge role for ISVs looking to plan and price SaaS offerings. I’ll elaborate on this in another blog post. We’ll focus on moving one mountain at a time!
Here are a few other tidbits we can share with you for now:
- The Profiler agents will work with both virtualized an non virtualized applications
- Users can profile web applications or traditional client/server applications
- There are no significant O/S limitations
- The Profiler will be a completely free download for registered 6fusion partners.
Stay tuned for more to come regarding the UC6 Profiler in the coming weeks!