Businessweek has a cover story on the cloud titans.
The Cloud: Battle of the Tech Titans
Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are going up against traditional infrastructure makers like IBM and HP as businesses move their most important work to cloud computing, profoundly changing how companies buy computer technology
By Ashlee Vance
Amazon.com's (AMZN) squat Seattle headquarters looks nothing like the country club affairs found in Silicon Valley. There are no free soft drinks or volleyball courts. The light fixtures hanging from the ceiling in the reception area aren't fixtures at all but rather collections of extension cords fitted with bulbs. The receptionists lack computerized systems for registering guests. They simply write down visitors' names on a piece of paper. Such is low-margin life in online retail, where Wal-Mart (WMT) stands at the ready, waiting to take away your extension cords.
But is this really a cloud fight or the new battle in Information Technology?
"Things are downright Darwinian right now," says Mike Olson, the chief executive officer of Cloudera, a startup that specializes in data analytics software. "There hasn't been this type of Cambrian explosion in corporate technology in 20 years."
Is this the future?
Scott Raney, a partner at venture capital firm Redpoint Ventures, which has invested in numerous cloud-powered startups, views the recent acquisitions and outpouring of rhetoric as a signal that the big boys fully appreciate what's at stake. Still, he can foresee their numbers dwindling as great volumes of data are sucked up into the cloud. The disaster scenario for the traditional heavyweights is that Amazon, Google, and Microsoft end up as the corporate information kingpins.
"There is one school of thought that the world is heading toward three really big data centers owned by those three companies," says Raney. "They will be the world's computers, more or less, and all the software will be running there. It's a pretty extreme view, but that's spooking the hell out of all the other companies."