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MSPs Take Note: The Cloud War Is Still Ongoing | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Here's what you must know in order to succeed

By Kirill Bensonoff, founder and CEO of ComputerSupport and Unigma

The market for cloud computing continues to grow and defy all expectations. Startups are starting to slow down, but the big three - Amazon, Microsoft and Google - reported excellent earnings last quarter. Who exactly are “The Big Three”? Who are the others? What do MSPs need to know in order to take advantage of, and succeed in, the Cloud Wars?

Who Are The Players?

Amazon Web Services was an early entrant in the public cloud market, which allowed it to dominate the space. As Gartner stated in its Magic quadrant, AWS's customer base is diverse and covers a broad range of use cases, including enterprise and mission critical applications. It is currently the market leader and has over 10 times more compute capacity in use than that of all the 14 other providers combined.

Microsoft Azure is the second biggest by market share, and it integrated its’ IaaS and PaaS components. Microsoft has been rapidly rolling out new features and services. Its’ infrastructure and platform not only offers world-class IT frameworks, but also works well with Microsoft’s on-premise solutions and development tools. Microsoft’s Azure is also an early entrant into new spaces such as Internet of Things.

Google Cloud Platform is the third largest IaaS, and it allows organizations to "run like Google" by exposing Google's highly innovative technologies to developers and service providers, who can then create their own products and services. Although Google is a late entrant to the IaaS market, it is utilizing its’ powerful capabilities and has been gaining momentum.

VMware vCloud Air, the market leader in virtualization technologies, announced vCloud Air in 2008, but it wasn’t completed until years later. vCloud Air is an IaaS platform built on VMware’s vSphere technology, and its original products included Direct Connect, DRaaS, CloudFoundry PaaS and VMWare View. VMware recently announced a strategic partnership with IBM in order to enable its’ enterprise customers to take advantage of IBM's cloud services. Early last year, it announced a similar partnership with Google to bring its enterprise customers access to Google's public cloud services.

IBM SoftLayer, was acquired by IBM in July 2013, prior to which SoftLayer was an independent hosting provider, with a focus on small and mid-size businesses. Now IBM SoftLayer offers dedicated servers, managed hosting and cloud computing. IBM’s PaaS BlueMix (built on CloudFoundry) hosts in SoftLayer’s data centers. SoftLayer has OpenStack based object storage with an integrated CDN via a partnership with EdgeCast.

Big Three AnalyzedAn MSP Perspective:
Price wars amongst AWS, Azure and Google Cloud have been on-going and are expected to continue. The “Big Three” (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform) have carved up the market, and MSPs should think carefully before making recommendations that customers move to a particular public cloud. Though customer “lock-in” could be considered low to medium (depending on which services are used), moving from one provider to another is still a time consuming, costly and arduous task.

Here is how the Big Three break down.

Amazon Web Services – earliest to the game, created the public cloud market. Its most developer-friendly, and has an ecosystem of startups and more mature companies who have built systems for many things AWS offers - from the ability to create your own virtual datacenters using CloudFormation, to geo-redundant DNS services using Route53. AWS is not known to be channel friendly, though with consolidated billing and its’ Reseller program, it’s certainly possible to work with.

Microsoft Azure – Microsoft has made advances in the PaaS space, and made it easy for developers to bypass MSPs and system admins, and run code directly on their Web Apps platform. Microsoft has also been releasing innovative products on Azure – things like IoT Hub, Logic Apps, and Azure File Storage. Microsoft is also bringing the ability for customers to run their own cloud in their datacenter using Azure Stack. Azure will be the best fit for those that run on a Microsoft stack, and who prefer a hybrid-cloud approach. From a service provider perspective, Microsoft has and will continue to be channel-focused, will provide strong incentives to sell Azure (but will also provide strong incentives to mid-market and enterprise customers to buy direct via its various licensing programs), and with its’ Cloud Service Provider program, it’s the most channel friendly Big Three cloud vendor.

Google Cloud – Google is a newer entrant to the game, and it remains to be seen where its’ best fit is. It has certainly showed its’ ability to be price competitive, beating out AWS by as much as 50% on some of its’ products. We think Google will work hard to build a suite of developer-friendly tools, but it will not leave partners behind – the channel has been a driving force in speeding up adoption of Google Apps for Business, and I am certain the smart folks at Google will do everything they can to continue to work with service providers.

More Stories By Mihai Corbuleac

Mihai is an avid technology reader and occasional writer. He loves helping people and animals. Mihai is an IT consultant at ComputerSupport.com, an IT support company providing managed IT services, cloud computing and onsite support across the United States since 2006. His favorite areas include Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure infrastructures.

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