Successful cloud companies don’t need to be public cloud companies.
Confused? Well, if you think the public cloud is the be-all, end-all of cloud computing, that’s understandable. Story after story focuses on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, Google Compute and IBM Cloud. But, in the background several major companies are abandoning their public clouds.
First, HPE dropped its Helion public cloud in 2015. Then, Verizon dropped its public cloud offering in 2016. Later that year, Cisco got out of the public cloud business. Now, VMware has sold its Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) public cloud, vCloud Air, to OVH, a European cloud provider.
What’s going on here? Are these companies fleeing the AWS Goliath? That may be part of it, but certainly not the whole story.
First, none of these companies is giving up on the cloud. I still run into delusional techies and business people who think the cloud is nothing but hype and hot-air. It’s not. It’s the future of business computing. Period. End-of-statement.
So let’s take a closer look at what each company is doing.
HPE is now focusing on what it calls Hybrid IT. This “combines traditional IT, private, managed, and public clouds, so you can enable your right mix to power 100% of the workloads that drive your enterprise.” HPE acts as a consultant — with their partners — to find the right mix of servers and cloud services to meet your IT needs.
Verizon isn’t making a big deal out of its “virtual private cloud” and managed cloud offering. But inside the telco giant, it’s a different story. Verizon created an OpenStack cloud with Big Switch Networks, Dell and Red Hat to run its Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Network (SDN). In other words, soon pretty much every bit you send and every word you say will be routed through Verizon’s cloud.
Cisco never planned to be a public IaaS cloud giant. Instead, its plan was to use its Intercloud Fabric to connect cloud providers, both public and private, over an OpenStack-based NFV/SDN public cloud. Now, Cisco is trying out a business model called IT as a service (ItaaS). Behind this, Cisco offers four different cloud management and automation packages.
As for VMware, I think colleague Ron Miller put it best, “VMware decided it was better to partner with the AWS than to try and beat it, an approach that makes so much more sense than trying to run its own public cloud.” VMware on AWS is currently in beta.
Looking ahead, VMware on AWS will include the same VMware technologies customers already run in their data centers. The tripartite core of this is: vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi), Virtual SAN (vSAN) and the NSX network virtualization platform. So, what do you get when you’re running VMware both in your datacenter and on AWS? The answer is a hybrid VMware cloud.
So, yes, you could say that all these companies tried and failed to make a go of public cloud. But, I prefer to see it as enterprise businesses wisely changing course to mix their best technologies with the best existing public clouds.