A slew of announcements from Citrix Systems (NASDAQ:CTXS) and a debut in North America for an aggressively priced Fujitsu (OTC:FJTSF) public cloud IaaS set demonstrate that the post-PC cloud world is maturing rapidly.
Whereas the web took longer than many people 15 years ago though to impact the enterprise IT landscape, cloud computing may actually gain maturity and subsequent acceptance faster than the conventional wisdom holds.
Why did Citrix at its Citrix Synergy event move the needle forward on cloud maturity? It showed how an end-to-end, hybrid cloud model -- one that addresses the network, user, enterprise, SaaS applications, and public cloud providers -- can readily work.
Citrix calls the hybrid cloud networking achievements a cloud "bridge" and "gateway." But in effect the architecture addresses how an individual user can be recognized and managed in the cloud from wherever and however he attaches to the Internet, also know as the front door to the cloud.
At the other end of the equation (and with meta data and governance coordination to the front door) is the way the user's enterprise also relates to the clouds, the back door. This allows a business function or process to proceed across multiple cloud and legacy domains and be supported by multiple hybrid services. The apps and services can come from the cloud and SaaS providers, while the data and directory services emerge from within the enterprise; the user gets to conduct business using a managed pallet of services from a variety of hosting models.
This same vision, of course, could apply to consumers and their needs as processes. It's as yet less clear who would pull all those elements together. But a mobile data services carrier would make a nice candidate.
In any event, the virtual computing vision will perhaps be best proven on the business side first, as a business process can be controlled, and its needed parts defined better. Citrix explains it as managing among and between personal clouds, private clouds and public clouds. I recall having a chat with Citrix CTO Simon Crosby at the last Citrix analyst event I attended in Dallas. He was very engaging on the vision around this end-to-end capability. I have no reason to doubt Simon knows how to make this work.
Consider too that the managed hybrid cloud services would be inclusive of video, voice, compute power, data, SaaS apps, and full desktops as a service. Nice.
Managing this network hop, skip and jump with security, access control and governance -- a Service Delivery Fabric -- is the real cloud elephant in the room, and something that must be solved for cloud maturity to proceed. When solved satisfactorily, the inclusive clouds-to-IT at the individual user level process benefits will be simply ... huge. It will change how business and people operate in dramatic and unexpected ways. It's what makes the cloud-mobile-social mega trends disruption a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Citrix is by no means alone in seeing the problem and working toward a solution set. An announcement of intention from a new Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) and Riverbed (NASDAQ:RVBD) partnership earlier this month is working to the same end-to-end synergy, although details remain sketchy on the how (and when). Expect more from the Akamai-Riverbed partnership later this year and into 2012. But I do know it seeks to make what Citrix calls the front door and back door to clouds of clouds operate in a coordinated fashion, too. [Disclosure: Akamai is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Citrix is racing to make cloud synergy hay in the market perhaps most quickly by leveraging the NetScaler technology and installed base (now there was a prescient acquisition). Citrix also had a slew of other announcements out of it Synergy event. It addressed a "personal cloud" value via IT remote management using iPads apps, advances in virtual desktops and applications delivery (including a VDI in a box maker acquisition), multimedia delivery that scales, and more on worker collaboration capabilities.
Lastly, Citrix is ramping up its OpenStack work as an early and aggressive participant to help define the right heterogenous data centers to apply those front and back doors to. The Citrix commercial offering for OpenStack provides an interesting model for making platform dependencies a thing of the past, while using Service Delivery Fabrics to build out the new value-creation areas for IT and Internet. Yes, this is a slap at VMware (NYSE:VMW), and it is expected in the second half of 2011.
So keep an eye on Citrix for one of the best shots at nailing the end-to-end cloud equation. It's a game changer.
Fujitsu makes a good deal on public cloud
The other cloud news of the week that caught my fancy was Fujitsu bringing a public cloud IaaS offering to North America from a venerable data center site in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale). Fujitsu, which has delivered a public cloud offering in Japan for two years, is using its own hardware, software and cloud stack and multi-tenancy special sauce, but the end-result offerings are good old IaaS elastic compute services featuring standard Windows and Linux runtime instances and standard three-tier storage.
What's not standard is the pricing, it's a try and buy model with very aggressive total costs for those needing basic cloud services but with support services included. Fujitsu says the pricing is about 10 percent higher than comparable Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ:AMZN) offerings, but the support is included, which will be a deal-maker for SMBs and ISVs. There's a pending PaaS marketplace to help ISVs make a global go at expanded markets but without the need to build or lease data centers. It becomes a pay-as-you go OpEx-only model to expand into regions and countries.
Fujitsu is not only making it nice on full-service price for SMBs, but for large enterprises that need to accommodate multi-national issues around physical location of servers and/or the desire to coordinate apps on like IaaS instances at multiple locations around the world, Fujitsu has an offer for them.
The Fujitsu North America cloud goes live on May 31, and more services will no be added over the coming quarters. A freemium trial of up to five VMs, a TB of storage and three Windows OSes will be available through the summer, with a seamless move to paid once the trial is over, said Fujitsu.
I like the fact that we're seeing competition on price, support, global reach and soon on how to best deliver II as a service for both enterprises and apps providers. Let the Darwinian phase of cloud maturity ramp up.