For big IT vendors, 2014 will be remembered as the year they fully embraced the cloud. Surely some have dabbled in it along the way to various degrees, but this year, they went all in -- and they acknowledged the public cloud too. Whether we are talking HP, IBM, EMC, Cisco, Oracle or Red Hat; they are all here to tell you they are the cloud vendor you have been waiting for -- really.
Earlier this week, as an example, EMC announced a major hybrid cloud thrust with the purchase of three cloud startups and a new hybrid cloud product line. The company even reorganized several major departments into two divisions to focus them on the cloud.
Most of these vendors have been secretly hoping their customers would stick with the private cloud approach, which is one where they run a cloud service in their own data center. If you're thinking that kind of defeats the purpose of going to the cloud, you're right. If you're still running a data center, you are not gaining many of the advantages of a cloud strategy.
So what did the marketing folks at these big companies do when they looked around and realized that their customers actually used public cloud services whether software like Salesforce, Box, Zendesk and Workday or infrastructure like Amazon Web Services or a software development platform like the Salesforce1 platform? They decided to create a set of products designed to help their customers bridge the gap between their data centers and the public cloud.
And that's why the collective IT vendor mindset turned its attention to the hybrid cloud this year. What has not changed is their desire for you to use their equipment and software. Why would it? That's why they're in business, but today customers have choices and they are taking control, and these companies want to keep some semblance of control. Hence, the hybrid cloud epiphany of 2014.
It's not a bad approach actually because it gives customers, with a legacy data center who aren't about to rip and replace, a path to the cloud. Microsoft certainly recognized this when it announced their new product, Azure in a Box last week, a partnership with Dell. It allows customers to build a private Azure cloud and then transition to the public Azure platform whenever they feel comfortable with the idea. The key thing for Microsoft though is that they remain on Azure. And that's what all these companies want, for you to stay locked in their systems.
These big vendors need to get on board with the cloud at this point because whether they like it or not, the world is changing and their customers are using the cloud more and more. Just last week, we wrote about how GE is planning on closing 90 percent of its data centers in the coming years as it shifts to the public cloud as a way to get itself out of the data center management business.
This year, GE reported it has deployed more than 90 percent of its apps in the cloud so it's clear it's making that transition already. GE could very well be the canary in the coal mine for big enterprise companies signaling a change in the way companies run their IT departments.
Certainly the big IT vendors are recognizing a change is happening in their customer bases and are creating products they think will meet those needs for the immediate future, but it's likely that any company born today will never run its own data center because it doesn't make economic sense for most newer organizations. I guess that's a problem for another day. For now, think hybrid. The big IT vendors are.
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