En wie gaat nu echt verdienen aan ‘cloud computing’ ?

12 december 2008

'Cloud computing isn’t going to dominate the tech landscape, but will raise a ruckus for software vendors'. 'Google and Amazon will be cloud computing winners, but the spoils will be relatively small'. 'There’s a race to deliver a cloud developer stack for both consumers and enterprise customers'. Dat zijn enkele van de conclusies van een Bernstein Rapport, genoemd: 'The Long View: Netbooks, Wireless and Cloud Computing — Client Software’s Imperfect Storm'. Het rapport is bijzonder omdat het het 'cloud' landschap positioneert en het Amazon op zijn plaats zet. De analist Jeffrey Lindsay stelt dat 'Amazon’s much ballyhooed cloud computing efforts–S3, EC2 et al–are more about the 'gee whiz factor' and portraying the company as something more than an e-tailer than really delivering revenue. … Although Amazon was arguably a pioneer of cloud web services and some analysts got swept up in the 'Books to Bits'-hype we think the revenues generated by Amazon’s web services are effectively negligible', zo schrijft Lindsay in de onderzoeksnotitie. Lindsy schetst het 'cloud' landschap en noemt de leveranciers die daarin een rol proberen te spelen. Vervolgens beschrijft hij de verschillende initiatieven en geeft hij zijn oordeel over de dienstverlening. Wat duidelijk wordt uit zijn rapport is hoe Sun een grote speler is in de 'cloud infrastructuur' maar daar niet van kan profiteren. Veel vand e nadruk in het rapport ligt op Amazon, Google en Microsoft. De laatste zal een klap te verwerken krijgen van 'cloud computing' en 'software as a service' (SaaS), maar lang niet zo'n grote klap als velen verwachten.

Wat citaten uit het rapport. Ten eerste: SaaS groeit, maar slechts 10 procent van de bedrijven managed documenten online. De grootste vookeur gaat uit naar Word en Excel. De dominantie zal wat minder worden, maar blijft wel bestaan. 'While Google Apps and Open Office from Sun have almost all of the functionality of Microsoft’s Office the conversion of documents is still not 100% effective, although Open Office comes very close indeed.  In a recent test Open Office could easily open a Word version of one of our published notes with formatting that was over 98% accurate.  Open Office could similarly open one of our financial models written in Excel – over 3Mb, and using a variety of Microsoft functions with iterative calculation.  Once again the document opened almost perfectly but a minor change was needed to ensure the model converged properly.  Google Docs did less well and could not handle the Excel model but opened our Word note and preserved about 90% of the formatting. Even though these programs are very nearly comparable in functionality and can offer additional functionality in terms of allowing users to simultaneously edit documents – which the client versions of Word and Excel cannot do – we still perceive considerable reluctance on the part of users and IT Departments to use them.  Our own IT department cited several compliance and security issues mitigating against the use of Open Office and Google Apps  – some of them inaccurate – even though termination of our corporate contract with Microsoft would save a considerable sum of money'. Bedrijven willen sjablonen niet opnieuw bouwen, willen bestaande spreadsheets niet converteren en twijfelen over de ondersteuning van toekomstige open bestandsformaten. Google Apps zijn leuk, maar genereren nauwelijks business. 'Early assessments of Google’s revenue potential from cloud computing were, we believe, greatly exaggerated.  Some even speculated that Google’s cloud computing revenues could overtake its paid search advertising business.  While we think that Google’s efforts in the cloud space and initiatives such as Google Apps will appeal to consumers and small enterprises we do not expect that they will displace more than 10% of Microsoft’s Office software franchise at best.  Even apportioning a degree of incremental Google search revenue to the increased web traffic arising from use of Google Apps we do not expect Google Apps revenues to exceed $1.5 billion by 2012'. Het probleem, zo zegt Lindsay, is focus. Lindsay: 'There are already signs that its product development team seems to be committing their familiar mistake of failing to improve its products sufficiently to fend off its competitors.  Google lost its first trophy account, GE with 400,000 seats, to start-up ZoHo in September'. En Amazon ? Leuk, maar niet winstgevend. 'Although S3 is one of approximately 20 identifiable services, including infrastructure services (e.g. Elastic Compute Cloud or EC2, SimpleDB, Cloudfront and Simple Queue Service); payment & billing services (Amazon Flexible Payments Service and Amazon DevPay); ondemand workforce services (e.g., Mechanical Turk); and Web Search (e.g. Alexa Web Search and Information Services), we doubt they will as currently configured generate even $50 million per year by 2012. This compares with Amazon’s retail revenues for 2008 which are expected to be $19 billion and expected to reach approximately $30 billion by 2012. … In summary we think Amazon’s Web Services are not a major growth or revenue generator for the company.  Instead they provide benefits such as PR positioning of Amazon as a “Technology” company rather than simply an online retailer.  They also provide interesting projects for Amazon’s developers – who otherwise would be primarily confined to developing the shopping platform.  This we think enables Amazon to attract a higher caliber of engineers and developers than its competitors such as eBay'. Het is de mening van een analist. Maar wel een interessante visie: het schetst een toekomst. En wij zijn erg benieuw in hoeverre dat toekomstbeeld valide is ….

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