Roots in ’09, Results in ’10: Five Cloud Stories to Watch

Last week, we listed the “Top 5 Cloud-Computing Stories of 2009.” However, we won’t see the true effects of some of last year’s biggest announcements and news stories until later on this year. These stories signal the emergence of oft-discussed trends that finally should materialize in 2010.

News in 2009, Effects in 2010

1. Open APIs

Intercloud portability has been a goal of cloud computing advocates and skeptics since the beginning, and one way to achieve it is via open APIs. During 2009, GoGrid, Rackspace and VMware released their cloud APIs to the community, and several open-API projects were announced, including Red Hat’s DeltaCloud interoperability broker, Cloudkick’s libcloud and Zend’s Simple API. Additionally, the cloud-storage market is the target of open-API projects from Zmanda, Cloudloop and the Storage Networking Industry Association. As upcoming cloud providers adopt existing APIs and nascent open-API projects begin bearing fruit, 2010 should be the year in which cloud interoperability finally becomes tangible.

2. VMware Targets Hybrid Clouds

At VMworld 2009, VMware announced updates to its vCloud and vSphere product lines that should mean the emergence of actual hybrid clouds in 2010. Large providers like Terremark and Savvis have rolled out VMware-based clouds, as have dozens of smaller providers, and surveys indicate that virtualization efforts are progressing beyond mere consolidation toward dynamic environments like those promised by vSphere. VMware’s approach to cloud computing might necessitate hypervisor lock-in, but it still is the market leader by a mile, and any of its 150,000-plus customers wanting hybrid clouds soon will have all the components at their fingertips. Additionally, VMware’s acquisition of SpringSource likely means that Java applications will have homes in hybrid environments, something unheard of prior to the purchase.

3. IBM Gets Serious About the Cloud

After talking about cloud computing for more than a year and dipping its toes in the water via research projects and Tivoli updates, IBM finally released a cadre of enterprise-grade cloud solutions in 2009. Its process-specific offerings include business analytics and test/dev in IBM’s cloud, as well storage as a service. The goal appears to be to get enterprise customers comfortable with public cloud computing before IBM rolls out its own IaaS offering, presumably in 2010. One would think IBM has the prowess to attract enterprise cloud customers more successfully than can Amazon Web Services or Rackspace, and its solution likely will be tailored more to enterprise needs, so IBM’s presence in the IaaS sector could signal a shift in the way enterprises think about public clouds.

4. The VCE Alliance Unites Cisco, EMC and VMware

Announced late in the year, we have yet to see what role the Virtual Compute Alliance will play in the greater IT ecosystem. It seems clear, however, that the alliance’s jointly developed VBlock appliance will be a major player in the cloud space in the coming year. Not only is the fully integrated VBlock designed as a building block for internal cloud infrastructures, but Cisco gear and VMware virtualization tools also provide the computing foundation for EMC’s upcoming IaaS offering. Additionally, VCE complements the new Cisco-EMC joint venture Acadia, which aims to fill data centers with Cisco servers and EMC storage. Who knows if companies or cloud providers will buy into the VCE alliance, but we should see a big push for them to do so.

5. AWS Eats its Ecosystem

When 2009 began, Amazon Web Services was a developer-friendly cloud offering, but was relatively unfriendly to businesses without cloud-savvy application-development teams. AWS’s shortcomings did not go unnoticed by web entrepreneurs, who built an ecosystem of products to fill in where AWS left off. However, Amazon began to cannibalize its ecosystem partners early on in 2009 when AWS announced its Amazon Management Console, and continued with features like Auto Scaling, Elastic Load Balancing, CloudWatch and Elastic MapReduce, and with new offerings like its Relational Database Service. In 2010, all eyes will be on AWS to see whether it can continue to drive all innovation across its portfolio, as well as on AWS runner-up Rackspace, which has embraced the ecosystem strategy as part of its quest to overtake the IaaS crown.

Question of the week

What other ongoing cloud initiatives will begin to show results in 2010?