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As IDC sees it, tech's 'Third Platform' disrupts everyone

Bernard Golden | March 28, 2014
What IDC deems the third platform of computing -- social, mobile, cloud and big data -- is transforming IT much faster than the first (mainframe) or second (client/server) platforms ever did. This has tremendous implications for the IT industry, yes, but also for anyone doing business in today's world.

IDC adds that this change will affect server companies, with new server designs increasingly focused on CSP requirements.

In part, this illustrates the shift described above: IT organizations bias spending toward the third Platform and away from legacy systems and even designs.

As Private Cloud Drifts Away, Several Public CSPs Will Rule

More important is what this means for private cloud prospects. Clearly implied in this prediction is that a significant amount of IT spending - perhaps even a majority, when software development costs are added to server spending - will be directed toward public cloud computing environments. If you're an IT manager or individual contributor hanging your hat on your company's internal cloud, well, then IDC believes your career prospects are limited.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I commonly talk with both vendors and IT organizations who confidently state that public cloud computing adoption will tail off as people begin to realize issues with data privacy and security. The feeling is something along the lines of, "Public cloud computing got a good start while we were sorting things out, but now that we've figured it out, things will shift in our direction."

I'm not so sure. Often accompanying these "workloads will come back to us" pronouncements is a conviction that public cloud environments have mostly been used for testing, developments and applications that are relatively unimportant - that is, experiments and small-scale early-stage projects. This is associated with a belief that most public cloud use is by startups and small businesses.

From my experience, this perspective vastly underestimates and misinterprets what's actually being done in public cloud environments. There are important, large, enterprise production applications being run in public cloud environments, with more being deployed every day. Given the IT reality that, once deployed, applications are rarely re-hosted, this means that public cloud computing will undoubtedly have a strong future. IDC, at least, believes that public cloud computing will be the dominant platform going forward.

There's a sting in the public cloud computing tail, however, as IDC predicts that the market will undergo massive change in 2014 and beyond. Amazon Web Services will grow its data center footprint by up to 20 percent in 2014. Led by Microsoft and Google, AWS competitors will nearly double their datacenter count.

The downstream effect: The public cloud computing market will dramatically consolidate while it undergoes the dramatic growth discussed above. After all, IDC notes, public cloud computing is a scale and liquidity game that can only be played by companies with deep pockets.

By 2017, according to IDC, there will be just six to eight global IaaS players: AWS, Microsoft and Google, accompanied by three to five other companies building massive offerings based on one of the other ecosystem platforms (OpenStack, VMware, or CloudStack). Eighty percent of all new applications will be deployed with this small pool of providers. All the other CSPs who today proclaim future success based on customer relationships, regional knowledge or industry expertise will fight over the scraps left on the table.


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