One year ago, when we did our 2010 hosting/cloud Magic Quadrant, you were doing pretty well as a service provider if you had a bare-minimum cloud IaaS offering — a service in which customers could go in, push buttons and self-service provision and de-provision virtual machines. There were providers with more capabilities than that, but by and large, that was the baseline of an acceptable offering.
Today, a year later, that says, yup, you’ve got something — but that’s all. The market has moved on with astonishing speed. Bluntly, the feat of provisioning a VM is only so impressive, and doing it fast and well and with a minimum of customer heartache is now simply table stakes in the game.
If you really want to deliver value to a customer, as a service provider, you’ve got to be asking yourself what you can do to smooth the whole delivery chain of IT Operations management and everything the customer needs to build out their solution on your IaaS platform. That’s true whether your audience is developers, devops, or IT operations.
Think: Hierarchical management of users and resources, RBAC for both users and API keys, governance (showback/chargeback, quotas/budgets, leases, workflow-driven provisioning), monitoring (from resources to APM), auto-scaling (both horizontal and vertical), complex network configurations, multi-data-center replication, automated patch management, automated capabilities to support regulatory compliance needs, sophisticated service catalog capabilities that include full deployment templates and are coupled with on-demand software licensing, integration with third-party IT operations management tools… and that’s only the start.
If you are in the cloud IaaS business and you do not have an aggressive roadmap of new feature releases, you are going to be behind the eight-ball — and you should picture it as the kind of rolling boulder that chases Indiana Jones. It doesn’t matter whether your competitor is Amazon or one of the many providers in the VMware ecosystem. Software-defined infrastructure is a software business, and it moves at the speed of software. You don’t have to be Amazon and compete directly with their feature set, but you had better think about what value you can add that goes beyond getting VMs fast.