Cloud Special: So, who’s stealing real thunder?

By : |May 29, 2009 0


BANGALORE: For some it was a a cloud that they saw coming in their crystal ball, and so they got all set to ride the new winds. VMware and other small breed of pioneers literally steered the storm.

For others, with their small yet sharp eyes into the sky, the subtle signs of the new thunder heralded a new storm that they immediately jumped onto to swirl with.

And for the ‘been-there-done-that’ genre of Big Boys, it may have been a thunderbolt out of nowhere, but as it appears, they have got up on their heels in time enough not to miss the bus, or the new-jet-in-the-sky if you may say so.

‘Early bird’ or ‘late kate’, every player in today’s cloud computing market is making sure, he is not left out in the new world of clouds.

From EMC’s VMware, to Red Hat to Microsoft and to a big swathe of niche players, there are many who have turned the rumbling noise of the clouds into a pleasant ringing of their cash registers.

Virtualization has helped companies worldwide transform their IT infrastructure reflects back B S Nagarajan, Senior Technology Consultant, VMware India.

The IT industry is now moving toward this vision of cloud computing, and virtualization is the infrastructure on which it is being built."

The current state of the majority of IT infrastructures, combined with an economic headwind and the success of virtualization, has created tremendous buzz and confusion around the notion of cloud computing, he adds.

Cloud will likely evolve more slowly, but start to drive at a more service-driven model, instead of a component-driven model, in view of Andi Mann, Vice President of Research, Systems and Storage Management”, Enterprise Management Associates, an IT management research, industry analysis and consulting entity. As he sees it ahead, the pressure will increase on internal IT departments to provide dynamic, opaque, demand-driven, service-oriented, operational, and short-term IT resources.

So yes, the technology has definitely risen up to a new stratosphere but has also got the business side treading its surge closely.

The action probably started when EMC came with the IPO of its x86 virtualization software maker VMware. Acquisitions and deals to plug both business and technology gaps on cloud have kept the market busy. Be it Citrix’s $500m bet to acquire XenSource, the developer of the open source Xen hypervisor or Akamai Technologies’s appetite for Speedera Networks for bettering the realm of distributed computing platforms.

In one of such recent games, VMware lapped up Foedus, a small virtualization shop, and also Thinstall, a specialist in application virtualisation. All this while rumors of Red Hat being another appetizer for VMware continue. This confirms the server virtualisation heavyweight’s moves to gain momentum in the nascent desktop virtualization market.

 Meanwhile, another player Citrix is building a complete virtualisation infrastructure be it server, desktop PC or application virtualisation, as visible from a number of recent acquisitions including the $500 million win of server virtualisation player XenSource.

Parallel to all this, players like Akamai are doing their bit of action as they try to leverage the promise of cloud computing with its edge computing offerings where it hosts and deliver applications from the Akamai cloud. Talking about the company’s strategy with cloud initiatives in a recent interview with CIOL, Kieran Taylor, senior director, Akamai Technologies shared that the company sees cloud in all three layers – infrastructure as a service, platform as a service and SaaS.

Microsoft is not out of the spotlight either when it comes to a big push on virtualisation.

It has made its piece of the game with a well-targeted portfolio building up with the unveiling of Windows Azure last year as it simultaneously goes the brownfield way with acquisitions like that of Kidaro – a young desktop virtualization software maker.

The very latest move in this game came from Oracle, when it clinched the acquisition of Virtual Iron, a server virtualisation vendor startup for small and medium enterprises. This interestingly, uses the Xen hypervisor, providing equivalent functionality to VMware bit at lower cost. It is generally reckoned to be number five in the server virtualisation market, behind VMware, Xen, Microsoft, and Red Hat.


Among others, Red Hat and Microsoft have recently inked virtualisation interoperability deal, a watershed truce between the two sides of OS field, after the Novell pact.

There are also a spate of OEM deals doing the rounds. Virtual Iron has found another top OEM in form of Dell, which will resell Virtual Iron’s server and storage software alongside the OEM’s virtualization-friendly hardware. Virtual Iron inked similar pacts with IBM and HP before this.

Ask Andi Mann, the sharp analyst from EMA as to how impactful can be these recent acquisitions would be and he answers that he really sees Red Hat as lagging in this race, and facing a very difficult battle against VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix.

The big differentiator for them all will continue to be virtual systems management (VSM), and the acquisitions you mention, and many others, all point to this. All of the vendors are continuing to build out and/or acquire management technologies, and I expect this to continue to be the hottest battle – around configuration control, process automation, provisioning and migration, etc. “ he says.

So, the confusion and debate around “clouds” will linger for the foreseeable future, as Vmware’s Nagarajan puts it adding confidently that, “As cloud computing continues to define the terms and benefits it will deliver, VMware is working closely with technology leaders in many categories to set the stage for the open cloud.”

And he is not alone, because there are others like Nivio, a company that claims to be the online desktop pioneer, that are planning the roadmap well from a move to desktop to Computing as a Service. Though it is not looking at acquisitions now, CEO Sachin Duggal is upbeat that Nivio would stand out with its intelligent load balancing algorithm and redefine the many-to-one virtualisation and desktop distribution paradigm, both on complexity and costs, and, much better unlike traditional players, as he claims.

There is also expected a new launch in August this year that will whip up virtualisation flavor on the traditional application space of desktops too. “We are ahead of the curve. We are not looking at acquisitions now but there could be companies we would be interested in as we move on.”

And that’s one thought, that connects almost every cloud guy right now. Virtually!

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