Just as cloud computing was reaching some sort of maturity and status quo, the skies are about to change again as giants make big moves. A series of changes is set to reformat the sector and provide new buying options and considerations for CIOs.
Let’s look at some of the bigger activities and some of the changes about to occur.
Oracle buying NetSuite
Announced late in July and anticipated by many pundits for several years before, this deal is set to close later this year and will provide Oracle with one of the best-known brands in cloud applications after the mighty Salesforce.com.
Some critics have argued that Oracle-NetSuite might leave the way forward for other cloud application forces such as Workday to take more share but, as Workday is currently focused largely on HR and NetSuite on e-commerce, accounting and ERP, that’s tough logic to follow. However, Workday’s plan to advance in financial management could yet change that situation.
As for Oracle, established as a giant in enterprise client/server software, NetSuite gives it a stronger hand in cloud services where it has already acquired Taleo for HR, RightNow and Siebel for CRM and a host of infrastructure, management and vertical market products.
One company that will be hoping to capitalise on any slip-ups is SAP which, with its SAP Anywhere cloud service, might finally have a midmarket ERP competitor worthy of the name. One final note: NetSuite began by targeting small and mid-market businesses but today also serves many larger firms so the notion of Oracle settling purely for the midmarket in its cloud ERP outlook is probably wide of the mark.
Dell closes in on EMC
The original thinking that Dell’s acquisition of EMC to add storage to its PC and server businesses now looks hopelessly one-eyed. Everything points to Dell wanting to build an infrastructure and management ecosystem for companies transitioning to the cloud and assets such as Boomi will be massively amplified by its ownership of VMware, Virtustream, RSA and other EMC federation companies.
Dell’s attempts to refashion itself via this huge and hugely complex deal means people making hard predictions as to its success and the reactions of CIOs risks making fools of themselves. But it’s clear that cloud and hybrid IT management firms will have a major new rival.
Alibaba as dark horse as PaaS competition warms up
Alibaba Group’s cloud computing wing Aliyun (also known as Alibaba Cloud) might yet emerge as a true rival to established cloud infrastructure players. Aliyun is far from content with mining the huge local market in China and nearby. It said recently that it will open datacentres in Europe, Australia, Japan and the Middle East this year, as well as partnering with international IT firms to help them break into China. Less well known in the West but with a massive native market, Aliyun at the very least has the chance to make life very difficult for AWS and others.
Alibaba isn’t alone in targeting AWS though with both Microsoft and Google stepping up their PaaS efforts. Microsoft appears focused on enterprise sales through security, development tools and support for mainframe-class features such as Linux partitioning.
As for Google, appointing VMware co-founder Diane Greene to lead Google Cloud should be evidence enough of its enterprise ambitions, even if Google At Work still can seem a side-bet: Sheets, for example, remains far from being a realistic competitor for Microsoft Excel. And while Amazon continues to thrill analysts with its progress and remains a distance leader in cloud infrastructure services, both its biggest rivals are perhaps growing faster. IBM, Rackspace and a host of others are also jockeying for position in this high-stakes race.
There’s a tendency in the media today to argue that under Satya Nadella Microsoft suddenly ‘gets’ the new IT world while Steve Ballmer was a prehistoric throwback to server hugging. That’s really not the case at all: Microsoft invested heavily in cloud tools from Hotmail to Azure and Office 365, but its ex-CEO was understandably nervous about risking Windows, Office and other cash cows. Nadella has been bolder and even if questions lurk over the wisdom of buying LinkedIn, the deal has helped assuage concerns that Microsoft is being overly conservative with its cash pile.
The battle of the xBoxes
As if they weren’t similarly named and bracketed alongside each other enough, the likely intention of Dropbox to join Box on the stock market will doubtless spur more interest in their conjoined battle for cloud collaboration and files sharing platform. But it might also attract comparisons with other players like Egnyte.
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Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond