My professional life has gotten even busier — something that I thought was impossible, until I saw how far out my inquiry calendar was being booked. As usual, my blogging has suffered for it, as has my writing output in general. Nearly all of my writing now seems to be done in airports, while waiting for flights.
The things that clients are asking me about has changed in a big way since my Q4 2009 commentary, although this is partially due to an effort to shift some of my workload to other analysts on my team, so I can focus on the stuff that’s cutting edge rather than routine. I’ve been trying to shed as much of the routine colocation and data center leasing inquiry onto other analysts as possible, for instance; reviewing space-and-power contracts isn’t exactly rocket science, and I can get the trends information I need without needing to look at a zillion individual contracts.
Probably the biggest surprise of the quarter is how intensively my CDN inquiry has ramped up. It’s Akamai and more Akamai, for the most part — renewals, new contracts, and almost always, competitive bids. With aggressive new pricing across the board, a willingness to negotiate (and an often-confusing contract structure), and serious prospecting for new business, Akamai is generating a volume of CDN inquiry for me that I’ve never seen before, and I talk to a lot of customers in general. Limelight is in nearly all of these bids, too, by the way, and the competition in general has been very interesting — particularly AT&T. Given Gartner’s client base, my CDN inquiry is highly diversified; I see a tremendous amount of e-commerce, enterprise application acceleration, electronic software delivery and whatnot, in addition to video deals. (I’ve seen as many as 15 CDN deals in a week, lately.)
The application acceleration market in general is seeing some new innovations, especially on the software end (check out vendors like Aptimize), and there will be more ADN offers will be launched by the major CDN vendors this year. The question of, “Do you really need an ADN, or can you get enough speed with hardware and/or software?” is certainly a key one right now, due to the big delta in price between pure content offload and dynamic acceleration.
By the way, if you have not seen Akamai CEO Paul Sagan’s “Leading through Adversity” talk given at MIT Sloan, you might find it interesting — it’s his personal perspective on the company’s history. (His speech starts around the 5:30 mark, and is followed by open Q&A, although unfortunately the audio cuts out in one of the most interesting bits.)
Most of the rest of my inquiry time is focused around cloud computing inquiries, primarily of a general strategic sort, but also with plenty of near-term adoption of IaaS. Traditional pure-dedicated hosting inquiry, as I mentioned in my last round-up, is pretty much dead — just about every deal has some virtualized utility component, and when it doesn’t, the vendor has to offer some kind of flexible pricing arrangement. Unusually, I’m beginning to take more and more inquiry from traditional data center outsourcing clients who are now looking at shifting their sourcing model. And we’re seeing some sharp regional trends in the evolution of the cloud market that are the subject of an upcoming research note.