In Q3, Cloud Computing Grew, Bringing Hardware & Services With It

1Executive Summary

Despite a summer full of high-profile outages and several conflicting surveys on adoption rates, cloud computing continued its march toward ubiquity during the third quarter. Public clouds, especially, received a vote of confidence with the launch of the U.S. government’s cloud-computing application and service storefront, Apps.gov. As the quarter wrapped up, details also started to emerge about forthcoming public cloud offerings from IBM and EMC, two vendors that do not need to undertake the burdens and risks associated with becoming cloud providers, but that chose to do so nonetheless.

The internal cloud market made big strides, too, with VMware putting meat on the bones of its vCloud strategy. The virtualization leader rolled out more tools to assist companies in building virtualized clouds within their own data centers, and numerous providers already have adopted its vCloud API, thus enabling the much-anticipated hybrid cloud. VMware also set the stage for a Java-based cloud platform with its acquisition of SpringSource. VMware is not alone in this space though, as both Citrix and Red Hat also released internal cloud solutions during the quarter.

Those aforementioned outages did have some effect, however, particularly within the walls of the Googleplex. Acknowledging that its first-generation datastore and legendary Google File System were not designed to handle the types of service it now offers, Google laid out the details major overhauls it has undertook to improve them. Seeking to avoid the issues that have plagued Google recently, Facebook is seriously upping its infrastructure investment, and experts believe Twitter will have to spend a substantial portion its latest $100 million on infrastructure, as well.

On the server front, moves made during the third quarter could have serious implications on the look and feel of future data centers. Although Cisco was relatively quiet during the quarter (save for ramped-up rumors about a possible joint venture with EMC), customers looking for unified computing solutions received even more options. IBM announced a unified computing alliance with Juniper Networks, and Dell teamed up with Brocade on a similar arrangement. HP made the natural choice to integrate its ProCurve switches and BladeSystem servers, and Fujitsu and Citrix announced their own integration partnership.

Hadoop continued to be the star of the data-analysis world, finding its numerous commercial products. Cloudera’s Hadoop Summit not only brought the world the Cloudera Desktop, but also Hadoop-based, or Hadoop-centric, products from IBM, Aster Data Systems and Karmasphere, while Amazon Web Services added support for additional Hadoop tools and distributions. The third quarter also brought news that Hadoop innovation at Yahoo, thought to be on the way out because of the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal, might actually be increasing.

A look at the financial numbers brings mixed results, however. While big companies made a handful of pricey strategic acquisitions, the quarterly earnings announced during the calendar third quarter were not so positive. A few companies shone financially and several showed respectable signs of improvement, but many continued to see revenues drop. The server market was particularly dire, with IDC estimating second-quarter sales at their lowest number since the firm began tracking the market in 1996.

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