If the third quarter told us anything, it was that IT M&A activity is alive and well, particularly in the big data space. When a company can store or analyze large amounts of data with any degree of innovation, a larger vendor is likely to eye them up for an acquisition — even if it means paying premium. 3PAR, Netezza, Greenplum, Storwize, Ocarina Networks and ParaScale all found new homes during the past few months.
Speaking of big data, we saw even more evidence that startups selling the tools of tomorrow (i.e., Hadoop and NoSQL) are in a good position to capitalize if they follow the right strategy. Cloudera continued to bolster its partner portfolio to ensure it will be the platform layer for Hadoop as it increasingly sees adoption among enterprises. Provided Cloudera maintains a reputation of stability, it’s about the only vendor selling distributed data crunching until Microsoft rolls out its Dryad project commercially. For database startups pushing NoSQL, organizations appear willing to give them a chance, but they will need to address reputational issues stemming from a few high- profile failures.
In the realm of public clouds, the quarter was marked by perpetual motion. Very few CIOs still question the value proposition for cloud computing, so providers are pushing to differentiate themselves wherever possible. Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Joyent and RightScale rolled out a variety of new features to make their respective offerings as palatable as possible to as many groups as possible. As the market shapes up, we see that it will be a marathon; providers that sat in the background early might end up driving momentum in the future.
The internal cloud market was defined by attempts to peddle turnkey solutions addressing users’ needs around multitenancy, provisioning and self-service. VMware did it with vCenter Director, OpenStack did it with its collection of technologies and a handful of startups did it with their own products. There were some disruptive options, none more so than OpenStack. But competing with VMware, who is increasingly driving the cloud discussion, will be a tall order for just about anyone.
We also learned the price the web companies must pay to deal with their success — millions in capital expenditures to meet current and future demand. With Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter all significantly upping their infrastructure investments, it will be interesting to see what services they roll out next.