Analyst Lydia Leong was quoted as saying: “The sky is not falling, customers are getting great value out of cloud IaaS, but the competitive landscape is shifting.” She added: “many cloud IaaS providers believe that their current strategy is failing them.”
It’s not the first time I have heard a note of caution being sounded about the IaaS market. There are many commentators that believe it is quickly become a commoditised market and that it is difficult for vendors to ‘win’ in the sector.
However, I think that analysis and Gartner’s latest report are missing a huge part of the picture.
Of course most businesses around the world are currently on a ‘technology journey’ so to speak – transitioning from primarily in-house, or collocated or hosted IT infrastructure, to primarily or mostly outsourced infrastructure via the cloud. That may be driven by the need for a specific application, or due to an internal process or strategy decision, but the vast majority of businesses are somewhere along the path from the former to the latter.
And of course, in that transition it is natural that businesses are looking at the big global players – AWS or Azure for example – where Gartner’s picture of rapid consolidation and commoditisation is absolutely true. And for a certain type of company the offerings from the big global players are absolutely what they need. Maybe they are a retail or an ecommerce business that has peaky and troughy workloads and the just need somewhere to ‘stick’ their data.
However, that ignores a huge swath of businesses that have very fixed workloads. It might be an SAP application, or an ERP system, or just email. But these businesses are not able to simply move straight to an IaaS environment – legacy applications can’t just be switched to AWS easily. Really these businesses are looking for a hybrid approach.
Rather than a bit of an ‘all or nothing’ IaaS offering, these sorts of companies really want to be able to access colocation for their legacy equipment, enhanced connectivity to deliver services to their users and then to take advantage of IaaS for the parts of their infrastructure that can transition over easily. What we have found as well is that ideally businesses would like to be able to access all of this within one Data Centre, with the ability to replicate everything to another Data Centre.
This sort of ‘wrap around’ solution is something that Node4 is well positioned to deliver. We are able to deliver a complete end-to-end hybrid solution all under one roof with a high level of technical management and support.
Clearly this is very different to what is normally assumed when speaking about IaaS. But I would say the demand for wrap around solutions is actually a huge part of the market. So Gartner are absolutely right – businesses should be very careful when selecting an IaaS vendor. It’s just more often than not that actually means finding a vendor that actually has a more diverse offering than just IaaS.