The arms race amongst the big cloud vendors continues this week with announcements from Microsoft, IBM and Amazon. Microsoft, who is showing love to everyone these days, has a new relationship with IBM in which they will offer official support for some IBM products running on Virtual Machines in Azure. In the spirit of quid pro quo IBM are going to run .NET and SQL Server in their Bluemix Platform as a Service environment. Amazon meanwhile has released a directory service which will enable customers with Directory services such as Active Directory to connect them to Amazon’s cloud.
These latest salvos follow recent announcements such as Microsoft’s support for Docker (a popular Linux based open platform for developers and sysadmins to build, ship, and run distributed applications.) and Google’s latest price drops. This constant release of new cloud partnerships and support for competitor technologies and product services is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with. Moreover, it runs the risk of simply confusing customers or they ignore such announcements completely. It does not help when, like this latest news from Microsoft and IBM, there are no firm dates about when some of these things will actually happen. Leaving potential customers none the wiser as to whether or not invest.
What is clear now, is Microsoft’s strategy of enabling just about every option within Azure and with as much support from other vendors as possible. They have now done deals with IBM, Salesforce, Oracle and SAP to name just the big vendors. Their view being that cloud is to this century what the Operating System (OS) was to the last. It does not have to run on Windows (server, desktop or phone) just as long as it runs in Microsoft’s cloud. Remember that this was recently renamed Microsoft Azure from Windows Azure, as if to make the point.
The plan has a good chance of working while competitors are currently struggling with their own issues. Amazon remains top dog and continues to rapidly roll out new services, which has always been one of its core strengths. A weakness has been that it is not always the easiest environment to work with for the under skilled, something which the company has started to address with AWS Mobile Services. These are early days for cloud and there is a long maturity road ahead. This means we will see more and more announcements from vendors as they attempt to out-feature one another while also trying to reduce prices. This new front that has opened up with vendors working to offer other vendors’ products with their support certainly makes it more interesting.
With both Microsoft and IBM’s cloud offerings shaping up nicely it would be a bizarre quirk of fate, given this recent news, if they were the last two standing when all is said and done.