The big guns of the technology world are sometimes like that aging baseball team making another run for the World Series.
The baseball team's roster is filled with stars in the later part of their careers. They are not as fast as the younger players they oppose. But they sure have experience and enough knowledge to know exactly how to exploit the weaknesses of those kids with the big bats and strong arms.
In the world of cloud computing and the enterprise, companies like IBM, SAP and Oracle represent the older, more seasoned players. They have great technology. They innovate to some degree but not at the pace of the younger, agile (no pun intended) pure play providers.
Appirio has written a two-part series that explores the issues customers face when considering a cloud computing service.
Of course, Appirio has its own agenda. The company provides services to implement, build and manage cloud environments for. The platforms they work with include Salesforce.com, Google and Amazon. So, it's no surprise that they critique companies that have a history of providing enterprise software.
In the first part, Appirio makes a distinction between public and private clouds. The second post provides its own view about the more established players.
Appirio makes three observations about the games the entrenched players are now making:
Name Everything the Same
We see that a lot. Appirio points out IBM and SAP. We're told it's about branding but making sense of it all helps muddy the waters.
Baseball Analogy: Established technology companies have any number of pitches in their arsenal. They throw a particularly good knuckle ball.
Our view: It's not as diabolical as it seems. Technology companies need to grow as much as the startups do. They have shareholders who hold them accountable on that score. It is, though, a way for companies to obfuscate what it really is they provide in the cloud.
Claim Progress Through Standards
This one is tough to judge. The cloud computing world does need standards to make interoperability a reality. But standards issues can be a bit like a slow moving chess match. Case in point is the Open Cloud Manifesto.
Baseball Analogy: A veteran team knows how to slow the game to a crawl. Lots of pitching changes. Goal is to throw the other team off.
Our view: Standards can be used by the new players as much as the older established companies. Most all, new and old, are guilty of poor interoperability. Chess is a thinking man's game. Standards are, too.
Develop a Few innovative Solutions
Established technology companies do innovate but will often mix its developments with legacy services, making the on-premise offerings look like it has a cloud connection. We see this all the time.
Baseball Analogy: Don't mess with the starting team but do beef the line up a few promising players from the minors.
Our view: You see this approach with companies that are considered relatively young. Salesfroce.com is criticized for strapping on new features to10 year old technology.
How to Respond
But how to respond when facing the dizzying marketing barrage presented by the veterans of the gamer?
Appirio makes three points worth considering when going to the cloud. It's the last point that we think makes a lot of sense:
Use pure plays to increase knowledge, get real benefit and put pressure on legacy vendors - We have had many prospects and customers begin to explore public cloud apps like Google simply to place pressure on their legacy vendors (Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes). In some cases, this resulted in dramatically lower renewal costs of those products; in others it led to a deeper understanding of and eventual selection of Google Apps. Either way, it's a clear benefit to the enterprise. And over time it inevitably increases the rate of adoption of the solutions delivering superior value (i.e. the cloud).
We agree that established companies do take steps to develop the next generation of technology. But they have a lot to protect, too. The young companies are exciting and have the capability to serve the enterprise. But do remember they are young and are more susceptible to ever present disruptions to the market.
But in either case, now is the time to move forward with cloud computing, no matter if you choose the veteran or the new upstart. The times are changing fast.
It's not the time to live by the time worn and well known refrain made famous by Brooklyn Dodgers fans:
"Wait 'till next year."