Cloud to suck money out of market, report says

While the IT economy may be recovering, cloud computing and open source are driving fewer dollars into fewer vendor wallets. Expect a bloodbath to ensue.

Matt Asay Contributing Writer
Matt Asay is a veteran technology columnist who has written for CNET, ReadWrite, and other tech media. Asay has also held a variety of executive roles with leading mobile and big data software companies.
Matt Asay
2 min read

A recent survey suggests that CIOs are loosening the purse strings on IT spending. IT vendors may want to hold off their celebrations, though, because much of the spending appears to be headed for deflationary forces like cloud computing, virtualization, and their kissing cousin, open source.

An economic rebound never looked so dire.

That's unless you're an IT buyer, of course, suggests a new report from Goldman Sachs. In this week's report, titled "A Paradigm Shift for IT: The Cloud," Goldman Sachs said it expects that pent-up IT dollars will flow in the short term to building out next-generation data centers (e.g., cloud computing). But in the long term, less money is expected to find its way into fewer wallets:

After the initial build-out, Cloud Computing could drive some headwinds for the IT industry, as a result of two factors. First, we see virtualization as a deflationary technology. Second, we see IT spending consolidating in the hands of fewer buyers--the Cloud providers, hosting vendors, and large enterprises. These factors will likely dampen IT spending growth due to greater utilization and buyer pricing power.

Even short-term build-outs may prove disappointing, however, as Goldman Sachs expects large enterprises to grow existing virtualization and automation technology adoption in the rollout of private clouds, shifting slowly to an embrace of public clouds over time. The chart below gives some idea as to when cloud computing will hit its stride:

Who wins in this scenario?

According to the report, Red Hat stands to benefit from the cloud-computing craze. ("Red Hat is well positioned for the emerging Cloud Computing ecosystem, largely due to its open source background and current ubiquitous deployments in data centers, including enterprises, as well as in Cloud providers such as Amazon," the report states.)

But the real beneficiaries will be...the same old crew. "[K]ey suppliers for internal Clouds are likely to be those that have the most complete portfolio of hardware, software, and services," including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, EMC, and Oracle.

New boss...same as the old boss.

The other beneficiaries are the start-ups that provide critical components of cloud computing, with an emphasis on management tools. Here we may see open-source companies benefit, including Reductive Labs (Puppet project), Cloudera, and the two rising private cloud companies, VMOps and Eucalyptus, among others.

While open source doesn't factor heavily into this particular Goldman Sachs analysis, the firm has before called out open source's role in wringing more value out of fewer IT dollars. Open source is a primary driver of the global reset in IT spending expectations.

With less money flowing into the pockets of fewer vendors, we can expect to see both increased consolidation and fierce competition for the IT spending that remains. Those vendors that can help CIOs do more with less stand to benefit from this shift to low-cost, high-value computing.

And those that can't? Well, let's just say they may pine for the good old days of the global recession.