The ongoing debates of "public cloud" vs. "private cloud" and "IaaS" vs "PaaS" have jumped the shark into the realm of ridiculousness. These debates have gotten quite nasty in the last week, silenced only by VMware's announcement of their CloudFoundry Open Source PaaS solution. VMware is clearly ignoring these debates and going for "the whole cloud".
None of the above service or delivery models can meet every need. For the foreseeable future, a mature cloud infrastructure will include SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS—sometimes delivered on premise and sometimes delivered externally; sometimes on dedicated physical infrastructure and sometimes on utility infrastructure.
But I don't really want to argue that issue today. What I want to look at is the impact the VMware announcement has on the battle for "the whole cloud" if you believe, like me, that the whole cloud is going to be critical to enterprise IT.
The whole cloud approach requires a strategy encompassing all aspects of cloud computing combined with real products/components spanning private and public clouds as well as IaaS and PaaS with a vision for integrating SaaS (though you won't likely offer all of the SaaS solutions in use by an organization). That doesn't leave many companies.
The key players in the game for the whole cloud are:
CA established a leadership team that was clearly serious about cloud and made a number of great acquisitions. And then nothing happened. CA has a number of the pieces and an obvious desire to craft a whole cloud approach, but they have to-date lacked execution. I'd be willing to bet the execution is related to a key challenge for the traditional enterprise sales model with respect to cloud: it doesn't work. The sales model that rewards people on commission on massive revenues per sale doesn't work in the cloud. I expect we will see CA begin to execute better based on what they've learned so far.
Citrix is one of the few companies that were naturally well positioned to take a whole cloud approach. They also have a number of key, well-respected individuals capable of developing and executing on a cloud strategy. To stand out with a whole cloud approach, they need to demonstrate a cohesive cloud vision and show how their portfolio and support that vision.
Microsoft, like Citrix, is naturally positioned for a whole cloud approach. Actually, they are perhaps the best naturally positioned company on earth. They own four key pillars of cloud: PaaS, operating system, hypervisor, and management. In addition, they have a number of popular business software packages that are being transformed into cloud services. Ironically, Microsoft requires a vision and will to better integrate across these components so that building a cloudy enterprise on Microsoft doesn't feel just like building it using a bunch of different vendors.
Red Hat already had some pieces of the cloud puzzle and has been fairly aggressive in acquiring other pieces. The problem is that no one really knows what Red Hat is doing with any of this. In some cases, like Delta cloud, the world is largely ignoring what they are doing. Perhaps they have some brilliant cloud strategy they are going to surprise the world with. Perhaps they are still trying to figure it out. For an effective whole cloud approach, however, the market needs to know what they are up to.
Originally, VMware was not naturally positioned to be a cloud winner. What they had was a virtualization technology that is eventually doomed to commodity status. They've been working hard on repositioning that technology as a foundation for cloud and adding components to support a wider picture. With the addition of CloudFoundry, they've now shown their hand on how they are dealing with a number of the cloud acquisitions they've made and how it fits into a wider whole cloud vision. The questions for them now relate to whether they can really operate in an open world.
What about Amazon, Google, Rackspace, Terremark, and other cloud leaders?
While all leaders in the cloud, they all lack a whole cloud approach. Amazon and Google actively thumb their noses at anything related to internal clouds. The traditional hosting providers are (for the most part) firmly grounded in IaaS. That's not a bad thing. It just means that their strategy isn't aligned with a whole cloud approach.
What about Cisco, Dell, IBM, HP, EMC and others?
These companies and a number of others are candidates to play in the whole cloud game, but either rely too much on partners, lack key offerings, or simply engage mostly in cloud washing and not enough actual cloud.
What about Oracle?