Entries in historical analog (1)


Infrastructure (-aaS) goes to war


Among the most interesting developments in the business of IaaS during the past few months has been the rather dramatic ways in which the players have been throwing down guantlets.  Some notable examples:

  • The incumbent AWS, in Andy Jassy's recent AWS Summit presentation, has diss'd private cloud as "false cloud" 
  • Turning the beam to illuminate their position with respect to other infrastructure services, AWS has a point to showcase their record of continual price reductions while delivering just-in-time functionality to its community of customers when compared to other IaaS offerings.
  • The new aspirants GCE and VMware vCloud Hybrid Service have made clear their intention to appeal to their constituents -- the cutting edge development communities in need of almost unheard of scale in the case of Google, and the enterprise in search of the promises of hybrid clouds in the case of VMware
  • Rackspace and Joyent have revised their pricings, while accompanying the announcements with functional additions or the promise ('real soon now') of functionality and service level assurances to their customers and customers-to-be.

Like many other observers of the cloud services industry, I've made comments that include the terms 'commoditization' and 'race to the bottom.'  But in looking at historical analogs, I am coming to the conclusion that there are other ways to interpret the situation in IaaS, and consider possible outcomes other than an eventual oligopoly of the 'Big Three.'

In the upcoming series of blog posts, I hope to take selectively from the economic history of the steel industry and the airline industry to point out how the cloud infrastructure industry's 'future history' might play out.  An analyst and observer of industries is always at risk when predicting the future -- so I won't.  But I will point out some similarities to major techno-industrial disruptions, the tactics and strategies of competition, and their resulting successes and failures.  

I welcome reaction, commentary, alternative interpretation, but please... no name-calling.