There's nothing quite like a disruptive event, such as the emergence of private cloud computing, to potentially turn an IT industry upside down and inside out.
Although we're still in the very early stages of the shift toward private cloud computing within the enterprise, it's pretty clear that IT organizations are going to have to rethink how they manage IT. As that process evolves, it's also clear that IT organizations of all sizes and stripes will be reevaluating their strategic vendor partners.
Many startup companies view the shift toward private cloud computing as a once in a decade opportunity to usurp some of the dominant players in the enterprise. For example, at the GigaOm Structure 2010 conference this week, Nimbula announced its intention to deliver software that will allow IT organizations to create and manage their own private clouds.
Nimbula, which is loaded with talent from Amazon and VMware, expects to deliver its first offering later this year, said Nimbula CEO Chris Pinkham. The company joins other promising private cloud computing newcomers such as Eucalyptus Systems, WSO2, Platform Computing in bringing to market an integrated approach to setting up a private cloud computing platform.
Of course, VMware, Microsoft, Cisco and IBM, among others, are not likely to sit idly by. To one degree or another, they have all launched their own private cloud computing platform. The opportunity for the newcomers is in the fact that IT organizations will more than likely want a cross-platform approach to private cloud computing. Rather than tying their fortunes to one vendor, private cloud computing will allow them to manage IT infrastructure at a higher level of abstraction that will reduce their dependencies on any one operating system, database or virtual machine.
Naturally, all the big vendors are touting the virtues of an integrated stack that promises to lower the total cost of ownership for enterprise IT. But these new private cloud computing platforms will deliver the same types of savings without nearly as much vendor lock-in.
The last 30 years of enterprise computing has been about vendors trying to extend programming interfaces and other extensions to their offerings that all conspire to limit the choices of the end customer. And yet, if the Intel platform has taught us anything, customers will dramatically increase their total spend on open, industry standard products and technologies. So rather than concentrating on how to lock more customers in, maybe it's time for the IT industry to think about how to create an environment that induces customers to buy many more products, instead of spending all their money on managing expensive, closed environments that are generally difficult to manage.
And we'll know when that is happening because established vendors will start laying down serious cash to acquire providers of private cloud computing platforms that should begin to change the nature of enterprise IT.