Cloud-computing consulting is nothing new. Since the cloud concept took shape a few years ago, vendors, consultants and cloud-centric startups have been helping companies cloud-enable their applications and develop business models that leverage public cloud resources. Now, it looks like the future of consulting – among the systems big boys, at least – might be in helping customers design their own private cloud infrastructures.
The amount of press HP garnered for its new Cloud Design Service underscores this hypothesis. It’s noteworthy that HP’s new service puts it on a level playing field with IBM, which has been offering its own cloud-design service for a while now. These two companies dominate the worldwide server market with nearly identical shares, so it seems natural that their equipment will fill a large percentage of private clouds, too. But a clear services edge for one could skew this balance in the emerging private-cloud market.
Depending on a company’s wants, needs and vendor preference, both HP and IBM appear to add their own unique value to designing private clouds. IBM, for example, can supplement private cloud deployments with its own suite of external cloud services and cloud software, and the company touts its carbon-reduction advisement, as well. HP, for its part, seems to be pushing, among other things, the granularity of its design services – clients will receive a detailed bill of materials and implementation plan, down to estimated staffing costs. No doubt HP also will push Microsoft virtualization software, the result of the companies’ recently signed cloud-computing pact.
However, HP and IBM aren’t alone in their quests to build cloud data centers filled with their respective gear.
Dell offers design services via its Data Center Solutions group, which focuses on cloud- and webscale-computing customers. Server-market newcomer Cisco is getting in on the act, too. Its partnership with VMware an NetApp centers around a cloud reference architecture and, more notably, Cisco’s soon-to-be joint venture with EMC will help customers design and implement infrastructures based on the Virtual Compute Alliance VBlock appliances. It also seems likely that Oracle will roll out its own cloud consulting services, once the Sun Microsystems integration is completed.
At this point, one thing that appears certain is that, apart from the partner-driven Dell, customers can expect their vendors to push vertically integrated solutions. Cisco this week further alienated HP and Dell, and Cisco, IBM and HP (and Oracle) all have enough of their own products and tight alliances to sell highly homogenous cloud infrastructures. It’s enough to make one wonder if cloud ISVs and independent networking vendors will unite to push multi-vendor, server-neutral private-cloud designs, or if existing IT consultants will be able to piece together best-of-breed private clouds for their customers.
Private-cloud infrastructures can be complex, but many believe they will become the norm among large enterprises. The question now, it seems, will be which vendor to choose to design that cloud.