Fighting for dominance in the cloud

Cloud Computing is quickly becoming an incredibly disruptive force within the world of enterprise software. Such services have manifested in three forms, Software as a Service (SaaS) such as Dropbox, Platform as a service (PaaS) such as Heroku and Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) i.e. Amazon EC2.

The prevalence of such Cloud based services has caused Microsoft to re-think itís corporate strategy. Ballmer has changed his focus from his renowned phrase of Ďthree screens and a cloud,í meaning software plus web based applications. Ballmer revealed recently that 70% of Microsoft employees are now working on Cloud related projects and that this is expected to rise to 90% within just a year. You only have to look at the Windows phone 7 to realise that Microsoft is now much more focused on the Cloud.

With so many huge players now fighting for niche markets within the Cloud it is difficult to appreciate the scale of the war going on between the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft. The interesting element is that it is not simply the long established titans such as Microsoft and Apple which are dominating the Cloud. Google has demonstrated how quickly a competitor can emerge and has established itself as perhaps the most dominant company on the web.

The most prominent market to arise from Cloud Computing is PaaS. IaaS still requires a developer to setup, configure as well as manage an infrastructure. PaaS however handles much of this administration.

Although still under the radar for many traditional vendors such as Cisco, EMC, IBM and Oracle, significant investment has come from companies such as Microsoft, VMware, Amazon and Google.

Microsoft launched Azure last year having invested $2 billion dollars in infrastructure in addition to deploying thousands of servers. Google App Engine is a platform on Googleís own infrastructure, serving millions of page views each day. Amazon has been consistently adding services such as database, auto-scaling and monitoring to its EC2 service.

Each company establishing itself within the Cloud has found an important strategic value in the market. Microsoft must act to protect core customer and enterprise software businesses. Google has to retain its dominance within the online marketing and advertising markets. Amazon is predominantly a consumer internet company however itís enormous success through EC2 is pushing itís focus toward developers and enterprises. In addition Amazon now realises that itís main income from DVDs and games may begin to dwindle as more and more people start to stream from the Cloud.

A familiar scenario is developing within the market. The big players will fight it out for dominance while other smaller companies sneak under the radar. Without the burden of reputation such companies have nothing to loose, building solutions from the ground upward which are optimized for the new world.

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