Rightscale, Google, EMC/VMware Keep Things Exciting

A few months ago, I reckoned that 2012 was Year One for the cloud. My logic was that most writers, analysts, and marketers get over-excited early on by technology developments and trends, so that when said development or trend truly arrives it seems to disappoint.

I guess my thought was similar to that wretched Gartner hypecycle, except without the fine analytics and other big science involved.

Mostly, I didn’t want people to think we’re in a lull, now that the original excitement has worn off, when in fact we’re in the midst of a very exciting year for cloud computing. These past few days have shown this to be true.

First, let’s not overlook Rightscale’s latest development, a new integration with Google’s new Compute Engine. Santa Barbara’s “Cloud Blue” is running this program in beta for now, an expected tactic given that “GCE” is only a few days old. Rightscale has emerged as one of the top two (and perhaps the top) company in the field of cloud management, and is a key driver to what it calls multi-cloud development. To me, multi-cloud means real-world cloud.

Compute Engine itself was a huuuge announcement, as it appears it will provide competition of the highest order to Amazon Web Services when it comes to offsite, outsourced, third-party, please-call-it-anything-but-public cloud.

But that’s so last week. The latest news comes out of the Boston area, with news of an executive shuffle and rumored spin-offs at VMware. The shuffle puts Intel veteran Pat Gelsinger – one of the good guys of the industry – in charge of VMware, presumably charged with restoring more of an iron grip on the virtualization market (impossible) and continuing to move the company upstack (more possible). Former VMware CEO Paul Maritz moves onto the EMC mother ship as a maybe, could-be successor to CEO Joe Tucci when he retires 20 years from now.

The bigger news for cloud is the alleged spin-off of the CloudFoundry PaaS platform. The company will be an independent brand, I guess, yet still integrated into EMC.

What’s really happening here is EMC – dissatisfied with being thought of as a mere storage company, yet unwilling to sully its dominant storage brand – building a vertically integrated IT products and services company that wants to compete directly with IBM, HP, and Oracle. The company’s sitting on $6 billion in cash, not a lot when compared to HP ($8b), IBM ($12b), Oracle ($30b), and Microsoft ($52b). Tough to see how it will do so in the short term.

I’ve heard ritual talk of the consolidations to come in cloud computing, but it seems we’re far from that. Companies are being acquired here and there, but the bigger story is what’s being rolled out. Speaking of which, let’s keep our eyes on Redmond and see if any love will be given to Hyper-V and if Windows 8 will revive Microsoft as a mobile player, and by extension, as a cloud-computing leader.

Year One is shaping up to be an exciting year.

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