Posted by: Greg Ness | August 22, 2013

Will Hybrid Cloud Crush the Data Center Co-location Industry?

A couple headlines recently grabbed my attention, both involving Rackspace:  1) Rackspace had announced that it is supporting hybrid cloud, because hybrid cloud had won (the cloud war); and  2) earlier this week Gartner released its estimates of cloud infrastructure spend, which I discussed in this blog at the CloudVelocity hybrid cloud resource center:

Google, Microsoft and Amazon are outspending everyone else by a wide margin.  Rackspace spending is in a distant fourth place, spending less than 10% of Google’s cumulative cloud spend, or about $1.4b per Gartner.

I have written several blogs over the years on the recent boom in data center co-location spending, including coverage of this forecast from 2011 predicting colocation shortages in the near future.  I was last year convinced that the Nemertes trend discovered through copious research was spot on; that is, until I saw the Gartner estimates showing how much was being spent on cloud infrastructure by the giant public and hybrid cloud players.  2012 spending was estimated at about $50b per the chart, the year after the Nemertes research was conducted.

I was certainly impressed by the steam building in the sky.

I’m naturally having second guesses about a shortage of data center co-location space, given the incredible spend increase by the likes of Microsoft, Google, Amazon and the rest.  This year VMware also announced its hybrid cloud strategy. Rackspace cloud spending, for example, was dwarfed by the investments being made by the big three.  Yes it could take several years for those investments to take hold in the enterprise market and Nemertes was only talking about a shortage through 2015.  Yet one cannot look at those numbers and not be blown away by their significance (if accurate).

Rackspace, as a leader in co-location, is among the first to signal the new hybrid cloud era.  As a result of its leadership and spending, it will likely be one of perhaps a handful of co-location “survivors” who are able to evolve into more dynamic and highly automated cloud offerings.  The rest will likely become cloud fodder as their contracts run out and enterprises increasingly invite Azure, AWS and VMware to the RFP process.

The data center enterprise hardware market starts looking like the service provider market, with fewer buyers and larger purchase orders. Enterprise IT becomes increasingly focused on software, services and IT strategy.


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