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Original Post From Dr. Hossein Eslambolchi

Distributed computing is at the heart of a new revolution and transformation of not only cloud computing technology, but also the resulting global cloud architectures. Like BEA broke down the silos of mainframes into a new world of distributed computing, a world of many distributed clouds will emerge to break down the silos of cloud data centers. With this will emerge the “Internet of Things” with M2M, healthcare sensors, and cloud-connected automobiles and TVs. Cisco calls this “Fog Computing:. Intuitive Clouds will span data centers, telecom edge routers, mobile cell sites, and mobile devices. Intuitive in that the cloud platform layer will monitor the personalized user experience across data center fabrics and network fabrics, adjusting automatically and pushing applications closer to users with the right content and algorithms to provide secure, reliable, highly available, high performance, predictive and personalized services. Startups like LonoCloud are delivering a new form of dynamic SOA, a Cloud service fabric layer to address the federated Intercloud.

This new service fabric is highly integrated, policy-driven, automated and orchestrates services at L4-7 to form essentially a bullet-proof cloud for reliable and highly available next-gen cloud-based mobile services. This is an example of how a startup will drive industry transformation through revolutionary innovation and use of mesh architecture to enable dynamic SOA applications that never go down.

The timing is perfect to ride the perfect storm of cloud innovation being driven from the startup community and into the partnerships with large industry vendors. The timing is also right for a marriage of the startup community with a new set of industry-leading cloud “one-stop” solution providers who can deliver the “bullet-proof” cloud with the additional cost savings that federated multi-cloud will enable.

The Shifting Landscape

We begin yet another cycle. Since the beginning of the computer era every new computer architecture shift prompted a corresponding response in networking and storage technologies and architectures. Not surprisingly, the strategic leadership in packaging the new technologies came from the computer vendors who sought to be one stop shops who were more interested in bundling total proprietary solutions for customers rather than focusing on best of breed solutions in computing, networking and storage platforms.

All that changed in the early 1980's when the PC and LAN technologies converged to create workgroup computing, offering customers a revolutionary distributed solution that could offload many application chores historically done exclusively on mainframes and minicomputers. Shortly thereafter the Internet revolution emerged and technology disruption was in full swing in all sectors of computing, networking and storage. This disruption and architectural shift led to the emergence of several best-of-breed competitors such as Dell, Compaq, Cisco, EMC, just to name a few.

The ensuing competitive landscape shifts forced the former systems leaders to dramatically change their strategic plans and cede several market segments to the new best-of-breed niche vendors. However, ceding markets left the systems vendors challenged for new revenue streams, leading to a significant consolidation which rearranged the industry once again. Compaq acquired DEC and Tandem, HP acquired Compaq, EDS, 3Par and 3Com while Dell diversified its portfolio of offerings with the acquisitions of Perot Systems and Force-10. Meanwhile Oracle and IBM both engaged in significant software acquisition activities.

This rash of consolidation activities has created today's line-up of mega systems vendors like IBM, HP, Microsoft and Oracle who have invaded each other's former areas of strength by acquiring assets to recreate the full service strategies that were abandoned 25 years ago when fast moving best-of-breed start-up's captured significant emerging markets in networking and storage. Besides the resurgence of the mega systems companies, two formerly niche players, Cisco and EMC, have emerged with very strong financial positions and have diversified into adjacent markets. Going forward, the direction seems to be clear. The mega vendors will continue to acquire niche technology assets to expand the breath of their portfolios to the point that they will all have nearly similar offerings.

The recent acquisition of Nicera by VMWare seems to be the latest example of how players with strong balance sheets use them target entre into new or adjacent market spaces. For VMWare, the logic behind the acquisition is strategically sound. Just as interesting, however, is that fact that there was apparently a bidding war that erupted with most of the systems vendors needing to examine their strategies in the rapidly growing virtualization and SDN markets. This activity frenzy seems to be strategically interesting because 1) it highlighted just how few high quality targets there are in those related markets and, 2) how many vendors are evaluating their virtualization positions.

Another major market that all systems vendors have entered is Cloud Computing. The early implementations have caused vendors and customers alike to realize that the technologies are complex and new challenges are emerging as live applications are implemented. While there seems to be universal agreement on the benefits of Cloud computing, well publicized outages are prompting customers to take a go-slow approach until the equipment vendors and service providers develop solutions that can overcome the reliability challenges. The stakes are extremely high for the industry and the systems vendors who can demonstrate clear leadership in Cloud.

Cloud solutions are in their infancy and are very much oriented to discovery as you go. There is a great deal of R&D effort going into bullet-proof reliability and security solutions for the Cloud. Distributed computing with five “9”s across the InterCloud (federated multi-cloud) to drive a new wave of intuitive mobile services. As the adoption of Cloud computing advances, it is highly likely that just like virtualization and SDN, the invention will come from the start-up community and the systems vendors will look to partnerships with, and acquisitions of, a small pool of companies who have mastered the right solutions.

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Vijay Nachimuthu

By Vijay Nachimuthu

Vijay Nachimuthu is a Managing Principal of AltaFlux. His blogs mainly focuses on latest cloud technology trends and its impact on enterprises.