With the New Year upon us, we took some time to speak with Laz Vekiarides, CTO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, to get his perspective on what’s coming for cloud, cloud storage and data management in the general enterprise tech environment.
When it comes to public cloud, it’s clear there are three established players: Google, Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS. How do you see the battle for market share shaping up next year?
LV: Amazon is firmly at No. 1, and Microsoft has a huge built-in advantage with its established customer base of server and software buyers, which makes them almost predestined to be the No. 2 player. So, I think the one to watch is the third-place contender, Google. They’ll need to do something dramatic to overtake Microsoft Azure — an all-in bet on a moonshot technology or the adoption of some kind of market-changing business model. It’s possible, but unlikely that they will develop a game-changing technology next year, so my bet would be on acquisition. They’ve certainly made some smart, market changing buys in the past (Android for a mere $50 million in 2005, YouTube in 2006 and DoubleClick in 2008).
Whatever Google does, I imagine they’ll do something significant in 2019. I don’t think they’d ever be content settling for third place.
Aside from the big three public cloud providers, what other developments do you expect to see in the cloud market next year?
LV: One of the most interesting developments to me is that the concept of the metro cloud – which seemed to have peaked six years ago – is making a comeback. While the cloud titans continue to concentrate data centers in sparsely populated areas for what are, frankly, solid security and economic reasons, the enterprise still has an enormous need for low latency. The rise of edge computing and the Internet of Things has created a market for smaller cloud providers with data centers located in the user’s metro area.
What do you foresee in the storage market?
LV: It seems to me the data backup market is ripe for M&A or even IPO activity. The investment furor over backup startups has died down, and their investors are going to expect an exit soon. I believe vendors who provide a software-only approach to data backup and storage are particularly vulnerable to competition from integrated hardware and software products. I think they’re aware of it and will want to exit while they’re still at their peak.
Add to the mix that Dell-EMC has once again become a public company. They’ll be able to use their public stock as currency, so I’d expect they’ll start up their M&A engine once again. M&A in the storage market has been somewhat slow recently and valuations have dropped. Dell could very well heat up the M&A market for storage tech.