Last December, Google launched its new cloud platform. In January 2014, Amazon Web Services offered free trials for about 100 of its most popular cloud services. And, in February, Microsoft named former Cloud and Enterprise Group chief, Satya Nadella, its new CEO.
Cloud Wars Intensify
All these changes signal a growing intensity to the "Cloud Wars," as these three tech giants muscle for dominance in the lucrative cloud market.
"Helping customers keep an eye on costs, performance and return on investment going to be a huge differentiator." — Seth Robinson, CompTIA
While there's no evidence that any one vendor will emerge as a clear winner, their moves are indicative of the importance of the cloud to both large enterprise vendors and small startups, and a measure of how ubiquitous the cloud has become in today's business landscape, says Seth Robinson, CompTIA's director of technology analysis.
"Cloud providers are definitely trying hard to gain marketshare, and they are offering more options than ever," says Robinson. "While cloud infrastructure has thus far been dominated by Amazon, we see a scramble by other providers, both big and small, to get into that market," he says.
Cloud Vendors Relying on Name Recognition
Large providers like Microsoft and Google, are relying on their name and brand strength to help grab customers who are late to the cloud, Robinson says. While many smaller businesses and start-ups may be willing to rely on less-well-known cloud service providers, many enterprises want the perceived comfort of sticking with a big name provider, Robinson says.
"Middle- or late-comers to the cloud are going to be most familiar with the traditional IT vendors like Google, Amazon and Microsoft, and it'll be natural to them to see these big companies' products and feel more secure evaluating and purchasing these solutions," Robinson says.
But that reliance on well-known brands will only increase competition, as differentiation becomes key to gaining marketshare, according to CompTIA's IT Industry Outlook 2014 report.
While smaller providers will continue to compete on price, Amazon, Google and Microsoft will emphasize features that separate them from the competition, whether that's a reliance on legacy systems, easing companies' transition to the cloud, or helping with administration and management of cloud solutions, Robinson says.
"Cloud providers will certainly compete on price, but will also offer unique benefits, such as ease of transition or access to bare-metal resources. On the flip side, managing many different cloud solutions will be a significant challenge for many organizations. Understanding cloud usage and making transitions between providers when needed will be areas where companies will require outside expertise," according to CompTIA's report.
"Helping customers keep an eye on costs, performance and return on investment going to be a huge differentiator," he says. "Having the management and monitoring capabilities, being able to choose the right solution for customers' business and tapping into that broad base of knowledge that many customers just don't have," he says.
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