From M&A to R&D, Cloud is Driving IT Activity

Still wondering if cloud computing is the real deal, if it will find its way to a data center near you? I suggest looking back at the last several months (or year) of vendors girding their loins in preparation for an inevitable battle in the cloud. As I posit in my weekly column on GigaOM Pro, whether they’re buying, building or buddying up, vendors are surrounding their core competencies with everything they’ll need to compete in an increasingly integrated IT market.

This week, all the talk is about either Dell or HP buying 3PAR to get its hands on the latter’s storage lineup, which is optimal for virtualized environments and utility storage. But that’s just the tip of the acquisition iceberg, even for the two suitors involved. Large vendors, especially, have been on a cloud-buying spree, combining for more than 30 cloud-related purchases in the last 18 months. (Read the full post on GigaOM Pro for my probably incomplete list.) And as I detail in my new report on VMware, the cloud spectrum is broad; vendors who want to compete need a holistic story to tell.

Not every vendor is buying its way into the cloud game, though. Cisco famously built its own Unified Computing System server lineup, and has partnered with VMware and EMC to fill out the virtualization and storage components of the infrastructure stack. Microsoft, too, aims to become a full-fledged cloud computing vendor — Windows Azure, Hyper-V, Systems Center and AppFabric all are in-house developments, as is the forthcoming Dryad parallel-programming framework.

Perhaps the best example of a company developing its own cloud tools is Red Hat, which this week detailed its expansive cloud portfolio that spans public cloud, internal clouds, IaaS, PaaS, virtualization, APIs, etc. Yes, its platform story hinges upon JBoss, which Red Hat bought in 2006, but the cloud strategy started to take shape quite a bit later.

For vendors who lack either the cash or the desire to expand their cloud stories, partnerships have proven a popular choice. Just this past week, Eucalyptus, rPath and newScale combined their products into an integrated cloud platform, and Egenera and Citrix certified a XenServer-PAN Manager converged-infrastructure solution.

Looking around at the sheer number of startups and established vendors selling individual pieces of the cloud stack, I think the action is just getting started.

Read the full post here.

Photo courtesy Flickr user stopnlook.