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Cloud services to watch in 2017
Tue, 10th Jan 2017
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Cloud computing is offering the industry an opportunity for rapid innovation, and suppliers have jumped at the chance to be a part this growing cloud service marketplace. At its last AWS re:Invent conference, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced that it introduced over 1,000 new features in 2016, and that's just a single vendor – albeit a very large one. There have been so many “as-a-service” offerings coming to the market that it is difficult to keep up. We'll dive in here, but before we do, let's start where it all began.

In the beginning

In the beginning, there were largely three types of service offerings — Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). IaaS offerings allowed enterprises to use systems located in the data centers of cloud service providers to support applications running directly on the physical hardware or encapsulated in a virtual machine. SaaS offerings gave enterprises access to entire applications, such as customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), email, and contact or calendar management. PaaS offerings provided enterprise developers with an entire application development and deployment environment designed to make it easier and faster to bring a new application into existence and deploy it for the benefit of the organization.

New service offerings we're likely to see in 2017

Suppliers of these three types of basic cloud services have looked for opportunities to fine-tune and segment them into more granular, targeted offerings, hoping to both expand their revenue and serve new audiences.

Here are some examples of new IaaS cloud services we expect to see enter the market in 2017:

  • Big Data-as-a-Service allows enterprises to quickly and easily begin big data projects without needing to purchase new systems and install software. Some examples are SAP Altiscale, CSC Big Data Platform, or BlueData.
  • Unified Communications-as-a-Service is an outsourced enterprise communications solution that include voice over IP (VoIP or Internet telephony), instant messaging, and collaboration and videoconference applications using fixed and mobile devices. Vendors include Blue Jeans, Dialpad, RingCentral, Telnyx, Twilio, and Atlantech Online.
  • Containers-as-a-Service offerings are similar to IaaS offerings, but rather than hosting virtual machines (VMs), they host containers. Some examples include Amazon EC2 Container Service, Microsoft Azure Container Service or Google Container Engine.
  • Desktop-as-a-Service creates compute-intensive, virtual desktop environments using platforms as VMware Horizon Air, Amazon Workspaces, Citrix XenDesktop, as well as Cisco and VMware's combined offering, Desktone-as-a-Service.
  • Management-as-a-Service allows an enterprise to monitor and manage their own servers that are housed in their own data center. Some examples include Fujitsu Cloud or Sofigate IT Management-as-a-Service.
  • Security-as-a-Service applies sophisticated security, alerting and reporting services, such as those from Trend Micro, Alert Logic, Zscaler or SonicWall.
  • Storage-as-a-Service makes it possible for enterprises to use storage capacity that is located in the service provider's data center. Some examples of this service are Zadara Storage, CSC, Microsoft Azure Storage or Cloudian. A variation of this theme is offerings of appliances servers that reside in the enterprise data center that can be treated and accessed like a cloud storage service. NetApp, PROMISE and NexSan are companies that offer appliance servers designed to support this type of storage access.

SaaS suppliers are also segmenting the market and developing offerings that target individual vertical markets. So, we're likely to see various forms of healthcare management-as-a-service for dentists, orthodontists, surgeons, physical therapists and family practice clinics. We are also going to see further segmentation in both the management- and security management-as-a-service offerings that will target mid-market enterprises.

PaaS suppliers are likely to focus on providing tools for DevOps practitioners, developers of IoT/mobile applications, and developers who focus on using specific development tools and languages. This means that we are likely to see service offerings for those using Python, PHP, Java and, who knows, maybe COBOL for mainframe and midrange systems development.

Interconnection is key to an “as-a-service” ecosystem

Equinix supports a growing and vibrant global ecosystem of more than 2,500 cloud and IT service providers in more than 40 markets in 15 countries. We believe that direct and secure interconnection to “as a service” offerings can increase cloud service performance and improve security for enterprises and their users, while lowering costs to connect to these services.