Photo by Sean GallupGetty Images

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Clouds in Boxes: Is This a New Trend?

Cloud-in-a-box offerings are bringing ease to enterprises adopting the hybrid cloud approach. Here's why we'll see more of these offerings in the future.

The verdict is in. Organizations are going to settle on cloud, but they're settling on a mixture of private (on-premise) and public (off-premise). Hybrid, in the common nomenclature.

It's no secret that Google and Amazon are courting the enterprise after first having gone after green-field startups and developers respectively. Google just announced a new initiative designed to entice enterprises, focusing on networking needs like VPN tunnels and better capabilities to run what are traditionally considered enterprise workloads: CRM, ERP and SCM systems. Time will tell whether enterprises will see this as being enough to make Google an appealing enterprise partner. Interestingly, that's something the third opponent in the cloud wars already enjoys and is certainly part of the reason it’s risen so quickly to the forefront of the battle.

While Google and Amazon, in particular, have enjoyed the successes that come with being forerunners, Microsoft has had to play catch up. But it is steadily doing so and bringing to market enterprise-class offerings that prove its understanding of a market it has a long history of winning in. Case in point is its new Cloud Platform System (CPS) , affectionately (and sometimes sarcastically) dubbed "Azure-in-a-box." Given that a large part of the success of SaaS-based applications like Salesforce.com have come because "buy" wins over "build" when it comes to commoditized business functions, CPS appears to take that premise and apply it to the infrastructure needed to build a private (on-premise) cloud.

Click here for Talkin' Cloud's Top 100 CSP list

Now, Microsoft is not offering an entire cloud-in-a-box. That'd be silly. But it is offering the building blocks necessary to build one. Certainly a single CPS unit might not be considered a cloud in and of itself, but two, three or more is getting there. By modeling CPS after Azure, one assumes that the ability to seamlessly integrate with Azure itself and thus arrive at a hybrid cloud model will exist if not now, in the near future. Given the preponderance of data showing hybrid as the ultimate destination, Microsoft appears to be trying to take the lead in getting there.

Google, and to a lesser extent Amazon — who has been in the enterprise game long enough now to start tailoring offerings and services to attract the lucrative market — are not necessarily as well-positioned to provide a similar path to what appears to be the desired hybrid cloud architecture. Microsoft has specifically included in its system enterprise-proven hardware and services, a direction that that the very outspoken, white-label supporting Google may not be willing to take. And yet enterprises desire reliability as much (or more) as they do cost-cutting measures, as seen by surveys that indicate cost is not a driving factor behind cloud adoption .

Expect to see more of these "cloud-in-a-box" offerings coming from other enterprise-savvy providers as organizations continue to build out their private clouds and evaluate public clouds for their continued journey toward a hybrid cloud architecture. If cloud is, as has been posited, the result of commoditization of infrastructure, there's no reason to not think that "buy" will win over "build" just as it has in the software market.

How do you view these cloud-in-a-box offerings? Have you had any experience with Microsoft's new offering? If so, what did you think?

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