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Big IT vendors overcomplicating the cloud

CA and NetApp have joined together on cloud offerings. But are they missing the point of simplifying enterprise IT?

Enterprise IT tends to see waves of interest and productivity related to new technologies that ebb and flow with interest from users and developers. Cloud computing in a variety of forms--compute power, storage, etc.--has been the recent poster child for reducing cost and complexity.

There is little question that users want to make their technology life easier, which is why cloud services have been embraced so heartily to date. And because users are interested in the cloud, large enterprise vendors are looking to capitalize on the interest and adoption.

This obviously makes sense. Corporations exist to make money. And as former MySQL CEO Marten Mickos often said, quoting Wayne Gretzky "Companies need to skate to where the puck is going to be," meaning that strategically you need to go to where people are spending money.

The global cloud-computing market is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of 28 percent from $47 billion in 2008 to $126 billion by 2012. And analyst firm Gartner estimates the cloud market will be $150 billion in 2013. However, right now neither public nor private cloud represents a huge revenue stream for any one specific company, with the exception of Amazon Web Services' contribution to Amazon's bottom line.

But, there is one aspect that some of the big companies have forgotten, and that's the fact that users are embracing public cloud offerings because they are simple to use and avoid all the trappings of traditional IT environments.

On Tuesday as CA and NetApp announced a partnership to develop management solutions for public and private cloud environments I began to wonder if this point is lost on big vendors, or if it is a purposeful attempt to expand the market.

According to a joint press release, "the companies are integrating CA's virtualization, automation and service assurance offerings with NetApp's storage management solutions. The unified solutions will further help customers drive operational efficiencies through improved business agility, productivity and service quality, while also helping to lower costs and reduce risks that are associated with virtualization and cloud-based infrastructures."

Buzzwords aside (and there are many) it would seem that this partnership is beneficial for the companies, but perhaps less so for users. I am sure this is an early agreement that portends a complex future, but sooner or later there will be a line where the modern complexity of enterprise cloud solutions start to look like the traditional complexity of multitier architecture.

This is not to suggest that CA and NetApp are wrong to align their products, but I do believe that this kind of noise in the market will discourage many potential customers from adopting cloud solutions.