Report: Google, Microsoft Both Making IaaS Moves
Are Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) hard at work on infrastructure-as-as-service (IaaS) offerings? The chatter surrounding that question got quite a boost after GigaOm reported sources close to both camps say it will happen this year — Google announcing its IaaS product by the end of 2012 and Microsoft much sooner, quite possibly at its June 7 Get Ready to Meet Windows Azure event in San Francisco.
Both Google and Microsoft have platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings, App Engine and Azure, respectively, but right now that’s not where the cloud money is — it’s in IaaS. Google already has Google Cloud Storage, and Microsoft has already begun to rent Windows as well as Linux virtual servers. GigaOm’s Derrick Harris reported on a tweet from a Microsoft analyst claiming that IaaS is “on the roadmap.” Such speculation is nothing new, but this got people’s attention nonetheless.
I haven’t yet acknowledged the 800-pound gorilla in the room, but we both know it’s Amazon, and if you haven’t heard, 1 percent of the Internet runs on Amazon’s EC2 virtual servers, which to my mind is phenomenally huge chunk of cyberspace for one corporation — even Amazon — to hold in its grasp. Amazon is the IaaS leader. Everyone knows that, the only question (which remains to be answered) is by how much.
Harris himself commented, and I am inclined to agree, that Google and Microsoft are positioned to give Amazon a cloud battle it will have to pay attention to. They have the technical wherewithal, both are obviously experienced in handling large companies, and — here’s a tasty morsel — appear to be willing to compete on price, something AWS has done already.
Given the heated cloud rivalry to date between Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365, watching them compete for the No. 2 spot in IaaS against each other and also against Amazon will almost read like the next chapter in a novel, one with surprising twists, no doubt.
Notwithstanding the infrastructure competition that’s shaping up, the commanding lead Amazon Web Services enjoys in IaaS must have tech companies worried, and not just Microsoft and Google, but also older hardware makers such as IBM and HP. Staying profitable for these firms means being relevant, and that means innovation. Given the disruptive influence of the cloud on business, as well as the profit potential, the cloud initiatives all these companies are making are no surprise at all.
It is certainly an interesting time to be watching the cloud, and Talkin’ Cloud will report what we see and hear.