Cloudy inquiry trends
I haven’t been posting much lately, due to being overwhelmingly busy with client inquiries, and having a few medical issues that have taken me out of the action somewhat. So, this is something of a catch-up, state-of-the-universe-from-my-perspective, inquiry-trends post.
With the economy picking up a bit, and businesses starting to return to growth initiatives rather than just cost optimization, and the approach of the budget season, the flow of client inquiry around cloud strategy has accelerated dramatically, to the point where cloud inquiries are becoming the overwhelming majority of my inquiries. Even my colocation and data center leasing inquiries are frequently taking on a cloud flavor, i.e., “How long more should we plan to have this data center, rather than just putting everything in the cloud?”
Organizations have really absorbed the hype — they genuinely believe that shortly, the cloud will solve all of their infrastructure issues. Sometimes, they’ve even made promises to executive management that this will be the case. Unfortunately, in the short term (i.e., for 2010 and 2011 planning), this isn’t going to be the case for your typical mid-size and enterprise business. There’s just too much legacy burden. Also, traditional software licensing schemes simply don’t work in this brave new world of elastic capacity.
The enthusiasm, though, is vast, which means that there are tremendous opportunities out there, and I think it’s both entirely safe and mainstream to run cloud infrastructure pilot projects right now, including large-scale, mission-critical, production infrastructure pilots for a particular business need (as opposed to deciding to move your whole data center into the cloud, which is still bleeding-edge adopter stuff). Indeed, I think there’s a significant untapped potential for tools that ease this transition. (Certainly there are any number of outsourcers and consultants who would love to charge you vast amounts of money to help you migrate.)
We see the colocation and data center leasing markets shift with the economy, and the trends and the players shift with them, especially as strong new regionals and high-density players emerge. The cloud influence is also significant, as people try to evaluate what their real needs for space will be going forward; this is particularly true for anyone looking at long-term leases, and wondering what the state of IT will be like going out ten years. Followers of this space should check out SwitchNAP for a good example of the kind of impact that a new player can make in a very short time (they opened in December).
August has been a consistently quiet month for CDN contract inquiries, and this year is no exception, but the whole of last three months has really been hopping. The industry is continuing to shift in interesting ways, not just because of the dynamics of the companies involved, but because of changing buyer needs. Also, there was a very interesting new launch in July, in the application delivery network space, a company called Asankya, definitely worth checking out if you follow this space.
All in all, there’s a lot of activity, and it’s becoming more future-focused as people get ready to prep their budgets. This is good news for everyone, I think. Even though the fundamental economic shifts have driven companies to be more value-driven, I think there’s a valuable emphasis being placed on the right solutions at the right price, that do the right thing for the business.