Bridging the Gap in The Clouds

By Vince DiMemmo (Part 1 of a 4-part series)

To provide an in-depth look at the trends shaping how cloud services are provided and consumed, Equinix surveyed a range of organizations representing a broad spectrum of parties engaged in the new “cloud economy.”

Respondents of the survey reveal what vendors of cloud services see as key to their offerings and what consumers see as the key challenges to meet during adoption.

Analysis of the survey indicates that in certain areas vendors are not addressing the needs of customers.  We dubbed this “a gap in the clouds” and results show where opportunity exists for the evolution of cloud offerings.

We asked 209 individuals from 168 companies during a face-to-face survey at Cloud Expo 2010 to tell us about their cloud challenges and expansion plans.

Over one third of our survey audience identified themselves as Enterprise, and approximately a quarter as a cloud provider or an application provider/system integrator.



We asked eight specifically targeted questions to enterprise and cloud provider segments, and seven generalized questions to all respondents. In addition to exploring the motivations and reasons for focusing on cloud services, our questions delve deeper into issues such as security, performance, availability and connectivity of cloud services. We split our analysis of the results into two sections; “building clouds” with our cloud service provider analysis and “living in the clouds” for cloud consumers.

In the following analysis we use the term cloud provider to cover both application providers/SIs and more traditional service providers (those that describe themselves as managed service providers, platform providers etc.). A nuance of the emerging cloud segment is the more blurred distinction between those that provide fundamental platform services and those that deliver applications using the internet such as SaaS providers.


SaaS is Driving the Delivery of Cloud

The most significant activity of cloud provider respondents is simply the activity of putting things onto cloud platforms. With 35% of respondents either putting new software as a service (SaaS) offerings on a cloud platform (18%) or migrating an existing package to SaaS (17%) it is clear that the delivery of SaaS is a key influence on cloud provider behavior.

Coupled with the response that the single most significant activity is infrastructure as a service (IaaS) delivery we see that cloud providers are enabling SaaS applications at all levels, be it incorporating SaaS offerings into cloud services, or fundamentally providing platform and infrastructure services to enable rapid SaaS rollout by vendors.

Our survey shows that one dominant class of SaaS application is shaping cloud delivery: Business applications. They appeal to start-up companies and mature organizations alike as they support key functions of a business and there are clear economic cases for migration. A lesser, but nonetheless interesting class is consumer applications with high demands of media and millions of unique users.


Platform as a Service – a Strong Fundamental Activity

Those respondents that answered that their focus is the creation of platform as a service offerings (PaaS) reveals an interesting trend: With 18% of respondents looking to either evolve their existing cloud offerings into PaaS or to develop PaaS from scratch; and 15% looking to combine PaaS with their SaaS offerings, our results show a move towards combining PaaS with technically focused SaaS and business focused SaaS, a model made successful by the likes of RightScale and Salesforce respectively.

Be it a platform with technical software services, or a business application with platform capabilities there is clearly merit in expanding offerings into a platform pitch and yielding higher wallet share from customers.

Part 2 of this series will cover a number of topics, including:

  • what cloud service providers are most concerned about regarding performance
  • how they intend to expand their product offerings
  • what types of cloud services interest them most
  • what their interests are in the cloud space
  • an outline of their biggest security concerns

Part 2: Providers of Cloud Services

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