As with any new trend, hyped up by vendors and pundits, developers and CIOs interested in cloud must invest their time and budgets cautiously. Even with all the great new product and vision announcements at VMworld and DreamForce this week, two announcements will make it more difficult for developers and CIOs to leap into their next cloud investment with confidence; Google, VMware and Salesforce.com, three vendors vying for cloud leadership status, share the blame.
Preview pricing has no place in the enterprise
Google products are well known for their beta status well into their public life cycles. The beta, or preview, moniker is fun and cutesy, until you’re trying to establish an enterprise foothold, which Google App Engine is trying to do.
The problem with betas and previews, aside from the lack of SLA support for enterprise production workloads, is the uncertain pricing associated with pre-GA products and offerings.
This point became crystal clear when Google announced new pricing for its App Engine cloud platform. The Hacker News and Google Groups message boards dedicated to App Engine are filled with developers complaining about dramatic, anywhere from 50 percent to over 2800 percent, cost increases. Speaking of the individual facing a 2800 percent cost increase, he writes: “we are moving 22 servers away. Already started the process to move to AWS“.
Amazon Web Services appears to be the beneficiary of Google’s new pricing announcement. Enterprise developer and CIO confidence in using pre-GA cloud services definitely take a hit with Google’s new pricing.
Complex cloud pricing poses a barrier for enterprises
It’s been said before that Google, for all its greatness, just doesn’t understand the enterprise software market; take a look at the current App Engine pricing model for proof.
Pricing per usage of bandwidth or compute instances is increasingly well understood by IT. In fact, these were the key elements of the original App Engine pricing model when the service was still in preview mode.
Pricing for five different API uses, as Google has introduced with the new App Engine pricing, is overly complex at best. Does the priced API model better reflect Google’s costs, and provide developers and CIOs an opportunity to reduce their costs by using cost effective APIs? Yes. But it’s also confusing and complex. In some respects, the new pricing model feels like Google let really smart engineers, or actuaries, set the pricing model as a fun math exercise.
For enterprises the dramatically increased pricing and complexity of App Engine’s new pricing model will become the cautionary tale to those pushing an enterprise to adopt a cloud offering until the pricing and pricing metrics are established.
Cloud leaders aim to control the entire technology stack
The second announcement, or lack thereof, that will affect cloud adoption is the news that “VMforce is dead”, to borrow words from Gartner analyst Yefim Natis.
A little over a year ago, Salesforce.com and VMware made news by announcing a strategic alliance to let VMware and Spring developers build and deploy applications onto Salesforce.com’s Force.com cloud platform.
Yefim broke the news about VMforce:
Yesterday at VMworld conference Tod Nielsen, a VMware executive leading its platform efforts, had announced that VMforce will not be delivered, CloudFoundry technology will not run in the salesforce.com data center and users of CloudFoundry.com will be enabled to access database.com in some unspecified way as a compensating feature. Today Byron Sebastian, salesforce.com platform executive, confirmed it. VMforce is dead.
Yefim repeats a long-standing Gartner maxim, “the only real partnerships are acquisitions”. Salesforce.com went out an acquired Heroku to replace the VMware capabilities in VMforce.
Platform vendors, such as IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, control the entire technology stack underlying their platforms. As Yefim points out, this strategy will be replicated in the cloud arena. It’ll happen because cloud vendors, such as Salesforce.com, are vying to join the ranks of platform vendors.
Enterprises and developers relying on cloud providers whose platforms are a collection of partnerships and strategic alliances are walking a slippery slope.
When these partnerships break down, developer and IT investments in applications that relied on these partnerships need to be migrated, rewritten or thrown away, resulting in wasted time, effort and money.
Enterprise developers and CIOs attending or paying attention to the news from VMworld or DreamForce 2011 have lots of exciting products and services to consider spending their time and money on. However, they’ll be weary of doing so without clear and long term reliable pricing and using platforms that a single vendor can deliver. This higher level of scrutiny is good for the cloud market, for clients and vendors.
I should state: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies, or opinions.