The Red Ocean of Cloud Infrastructure Stacks (updated)

Update: am revising this still… Reposting now – but send me your comments via @CloudBzz on Twitter if you have them.

It seems like every day there’s a new company touting their infrastructure stack.   I’m sure I’m missing some, but I show more than 30 solutions for building clouds below, and I am sure that more are on their way.  The market certainly can’t support so many participants!  Not for very long anyway.  This is the definition of a “red ocean” situation — lots of noise, and lots of blood in the water.

This is the list of the stacks that I am aware of:

I. Dedicated Commercial Cloud Stacks

II.  Open Source Cloud Stacks

III.  IT Automation Tools with Cloud Functionality

IV.  Private Cloud Appliances

I hope you’ll pardon my dubious take, but I can’t possibly understand how most of these will survive.  Sure, some will because they are big and others because they are great leaps forward in technology (though I see only a bit of that now).  There are three primary markets for stacks:  enterprise private clouds, provider public clouds, and public sector clouds.  In five years there will probably be at most 5 or 6 companies that matter in the cloud IaaS stack space, and the rest will have gone away or taken different routes to survive and (hopefully) thrive.

If you’re one of the new stack providers – think long and hard about this situation before you make your splash.  Sometimes the best strategy is to pick another fight.  If you swim in this red ocean, you might end up as shark bait.

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67 thoughts on “The Red Ocean of Cloud Infrastructure Stacks (updated)

  1. John – vBlocks are the infrastructure and virtualization. You still need the cloud control layer to make it work as a cloud. Add Eucalyptus to a vBlock, and you've got the underpinnings of a cloud. Make sense?

  2. You may want to tease apart the list more into discreet buckets. The list is currently mixing virtualization, provisioning, policy management, paas layers and portals. All are ingredients but not really the comparable. This doesn't necessarily affect your assertion, but certainly will affect the deepness of the red. Then again, there should be a third column: product versus vision but that's a different discussion.

  3. John, I disagree, you can add VMware’s vCloud or the forthcoming Redwood and accomplish an integrated Cloud Appliance in the same stack as the VCE consortium and is a very effective appliance–i.e., pre-integrated. Much more like IBM Cloudburst or Unisys SPC than cloud like then Just a Bunch Of Disk and Just a Bunch Of Servers. Full Disclosure I work for Acadia/VCE. But I would say similar things about HP’s Matrix and Oracle’s platform for SaaS on Sun storage and servers. Perhaps there is another category in your not so blue ocean—Private Cloud Stacks.

  4. Donald – thanks. Yes, if you add Service Director (f/k/a Redwood) to a vBlock it's a private cloud. But vBlock on its own – at least how it's defined now – does not have the self-service provisioning and other pieces to turn it from a great big stack of converged infrastructure to a full-fledged cloud. Technically you can add Unisys SPC to a vBlock because in our model the cloud resource infrastructure pool is independent from the cloud control layer (e.g. we'll work with anybody's gear, at least in principal). Or am I missing something? Regarding categorization – that gets a bit difficult when you drill into it. Nothing stopping you from using CloudStack or Enomaly for a private cloud, though I might agree that a lot of enterprise process features would be missing (ITIL, ITSM integration, etc.). Not so likely that a private cloud stack like CloudBurst would make a good public cloud engine. Even IBM's own Dev/Test cloud didn't use CloudBurst. Generally, though, it's a bit fuzzy.

  5. Crowded space tells you a couple things IMHO… 1) when you see fast followers (like in this case) you can rest assured there are end user requirement gaps and this means the technology “isn't good enough”. and 2) when all you hear is talk about the gaps (reasons it's not good enough) one will soon see “good enough”.

  6. Not all aspirants enter the market to end up on top – but to get eaten by the more prosperous. I agree generally with primary market distinctions: enterprise private, provider public, and public sector – but not clear their may be other flavors, or 'mash-ups' yet to evolve.And what about Verizon or other carriers on here…

  7. John. You are correct. Today vBlocks is neatly packaged infrastructure. Nothing more, nothing less.Don. OpSource seem to be the guys that have figured out VMWare, Cisco and EMC. They have amazing network capabilities, open APIs and full orchestration on top of a product that is enterprise ready, best of breed, and available today.

  8. John,

    Interesting observations…I think it will be interesting to see not only how many “survive”, but how many of those who find themselves in the “top right” of the future Gartner Quadrant in this space, build their offerings on open standards. As many traditional large enterprises (such as the one I work for which shall remain nameless) fight with the concepts of “which cloud”, one of the major draws is the potential elimination of vendor lock-in via the acceptance of open standards. I can’t see how that can be far from the top of the “wanted list” for most IT/Business-savvy folks in positions like mine. I, for one, will be planning carefully for the movement of various workloads in and out of various clouds and, if the pain of doing that is akin to moving workloads from different platforms inside the “firewall” today, then I will know I’ve bet on the wrong horse…..

    Best,
    Christian

  9. You should look into IBM's Tivoli and Systems Director VMControl solutions as well. They aren't packaged as a private cloud solution just yet, but they allow for the management of VMs as well as workload automation and provisioning. I think they are in the same position as HP's BTO and Cloud Assure – products whose roots were in datacenter and IT management but are being either rebranded or repurposed for the cloud.

  10. Yes, it is.Skydera and Attribo are more like cloud management tool plays – perhaps a bit like an enStratus, RightScale, or newScale. They manage AWS and other clouds, but don't provide the stack to build a cloud. Let me know if you find more.Thanks

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