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Cloud Market: Rites of Passage

It’s taken roughly eight Cloud Expos to move from “Cloud what?” to “Cloud how?”

Blink twice and "Can we get a puppy?" becomes "Can I take the car tonight?"  Cloud computing took a little longer.  By my calculation, it's taken roughly eight Cloud Expos to move from "Cloud what?" to "Cloud how?" - I know because I've been at all but the first.  So, returning from New York where last week 7,500 people attended the 8th, I reflected on how much the questions being asked about "the cloud" have changed since the first Cloud Expo in 2008.

2008 - What is cloud computing?
Translation: Okay, what is it?  Does ‘The Cloud' = Amazon Web Services or what?

What are the key capabilities of a cloud? What is AmazonWS?  How is cloud computing different from virtualization?  Self-service, pay for what you use, SaaS ... are hot topics. Amazon WS does $100M in revenue.

2009 - Is the cloud real?
Translation: Is this something I'm going to have to pay attention to?

Does cloud computing mark a generational epoch on a par with Mainframe, Minis, PC and Web? ... or is it a fad that will pass?  Saving money, CapEx vs. OpEx, agility, and ‘why wait on IT?' are core issues of the day.  AmazonWS does $250M in revenue.

2010 - How do we define the cloud?
Translation: What's going to be my best approach to clouding-up my organization?

Every presentation opens with the question: "What is the Cloud?"  Most speakers cite Wikipedia or Nist, others have man-on-the-street videos asking people what cloud computing is. Vendors define it in terms most favorable to their own offerings.... IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, what color is your cloud? Cloud company acquisitions begin.  AmazonWS does $500M in revenue.

2011 - Where do I go from here?
Translation: How do I make this work?

Many have tried to leverage cloud with mixed results.  Cloud Roadmaps and solution presentation abound in attempts to fast forward through the experience curve, but the devil is in the details.  Cloud company acquisitions accelerate.  AmazonWS on track to do $1,000M in revenue.

2011 and beyond: It's pretty clear that Cloud is the next generational computing epoch, likely to dominate the next decade plus, unless the Mayan calendar turns out to be right. Today, the market is moving from the Wild West to the beginnings of settlement - a time in which companies are building stonewalls to stake their claims.

IT professionals also have moved past the obvious low-hanging fruit of dev/test and brand new apps to moving existing applications to a cloud. Companies want to be able to install, configure, clone, run and .... then .... move ..... multiple instances of an application unchanged. The reality of Amazon being down for a few days only reinforced the requirement to have multiple copies of any important application ready to go at a moment's notice.

Mu$ic to my ears.
I actually had fun manning the booth and walking the floor, telling the AppZero story, which is a great match to this generation of questions:  We offer the fastest way to move existing applications to any cloud - letting companies change clouds and workloads to match evolving strategies.  Here's the flexibility to learn, adopt and change cloud foundation rapidly, without lock-in.  This cloud agility is a differentiator that will separate the winners and losers in many markets.

On that note, now seems like a good time for the next installment of GregO's cloud valuation exit/acquisition score-card

Time             Company                                          Valuation*

Q1 2010        3Tera/CA                                           $90M   @ 30  EV/R(ttm)

Q2 2010        3Para/HP                                            $2.4B   @ 12  EV/R(ttm)

Q1 2011        Facebook/Private IPO (GS)               $50 B   @ 25  EV/R(ttm)

Q1 2011        Terremark/Verizon                             $1.9B   @ 5.4 EV/R(ttm)

Q2 2011        NaviSite                                               $230M @ 2.1 EV/R(ttm)

Q2 2011        Savvis                                                    $2.9B   @3.0 EV/R(ttm)

*Valuation - includes debt

EV - Enterprise value or market cap + cash + debt

R(ttm) - Revenue for trailing twelve months

I am always looking for a way to communicate better and cut to the heart of any discussion. So, if you have thoughts on this subject drop me a line at GregO {@} Appzero {dot} com or tweet me at http://twitter.com/gregoryjoconnor.

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More Stories By Greg O'Connor

Greg O'Connor is President & CEO of AppZero. Pioneering the Virtual Application Appliance approach to simplifying application-lifecycle management, he is responsible for translating Appzero's vision into strategic business objectives and financial results.

O'Connor has over 25 years of management and technical experience in the computer industry. He was founder and president of Sonic Software, acquired in 2005 by Progress Software (PRGS). There he grew the company from concept to over $40 million in revenue.

At Sonic, he evangelized and created the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) product category, which is generally accepted today as the foundation for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Follow him on Twitter @gregoryjoconnor.

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