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UiPath amplifies the RPA’s value that comes from scale

UiPath’s position as one of the leading vendors defining the robotic process automation (RPA) market comes with responsibilities for managing expectations across stakeholders, and the company knows it. Enhancing its value proposition by adding the necessary layers of technologies and deploying business-led frameworks internally and with alliance partners helps it build use cases of scale, a necessary attribute to maintain growth momentum, as RPA is no longer a siloed, line-of-business-led initiative, but rather a node in an enterprisewide automation initiative. 

UIPATH’S ENHANCED AND EXPANDED TECHNOLOGY STACK PROVIDES A SOLID FOUNDATION TO REACH SCALE

Solving the productivity paradox has become the guiding light for UiPath’s product development as the company seeks to gain broader stakeholder buy-in. RPA tools continue to be largely selected and utilized by business customers, but the need for democratizing data while addressing larger IT complexities is compelling UiPath to ensure ease of use of its offerings for the broader user community. Targeting new personas beyond RPA developers, including business analysts, citizen developers and testers, expands UiPath’s core platform addressable market but also raises expectations around ROI. By enhancing and adding features including design tools (e.g., Studio, Studio X, Studio T), management tools (e.g., Orchestrator, Cloud Platform, AI Fabric), apps (e.g., Forms, Tasks, Chatbots) and insights (e.g., RPA, Business Analytics), UiPath’s end-to-end automation suite captures the entire cycle of plan, build, manage, run, engage and measure.

While the build, manage and run stages are somewhat legacy capabilities, expanding into the plan cycle, which was accelerated through the acquisition of Netherlands-headquartered ProcessGold and enabled through the launch of UiExplorer, helps UiPath act as an arbitrator of the dilemma “Should a company automate a bad process or fix the process first?” by applying a scientific plan for implementing RPA one process at a time. TBR also sees the purchase of ProcessGold as an attempt for UiPath to increase its value proposition for higher-value design thinking workshops. While we do not expect UiPath to be a threat to its consulting partners’ core expertise, wrapping advisory frameworks with AI-enabled process mining tools could address the dilemma sooner. The engage and measure pillars of the UiPath Platform suite provide the connective tissue between the deeper collaboration between humans and robots as well as pave the way for the company’s pragmatic AI vision of building intelligent systems that provide the proper tools and skills. How to measure and report the true business impact of RPA implementation, however, remains up for debate, as enterprise buyers approach automation differently. As UiPath strives to reach scale, the inevitable question of “What’s next?” is rather loaded considering the hype around AI, the possibilities of automation and the future of RPA. During the conference UiPath released the AI Fabric solution in private mode, first announced in April, to address the barriers of AI and RPA working together including in operations, technology and processes. As the notion of AI fabric is breaking down siloes between RPA and data science teams through features such as intuitive interface, operationalizing AI models and closing the RPA-AI data feedback loop, AI Fabric is a timely response to buyers’ adoption of AI, which for many is still in a pilot phase.

For the second year in a row TBR attended the annual UiPath Forward conference, the focus of which has shifted dramatically from regionally oriented in 2018 to global in 2019, reflecting the company’s efforts to build a framework and portfolio offerings developed and delivered through integrated scale. And stories of scale were not lacking: The conference hosted close to 3,000 attendees this year — twice as many as last year — and demonstrated expanded capabilities of the core UiPath Platform. UiPath also announced two acquisitions and shared four dozen client stories onstage. Under the slogan “Reboot Work,” the conference amplified the broader need for rebooting customer experience and business overall, which in many cases is easier said than done, but client stories shared during the conference showed pain points are lessening, reflecting on UiPath’s Automation First vision with “automation is the application” framework at its core.

CX customers are buying into Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience vision as competitors innovate similarly

Data unification, enhancement and intelligence are key

Out from under the ERP and autonomous database narratives of Oracle’s (NYSE: ORCL) top executives, Oracle’s CX leadership was able to curate an inspiring event around its CX portfolio with themes of empowerment and valuing people’s time — both employees’ and customers’. The bulk of Oracle’s Modern CX event built on announcements made five months prior at Oracle OpenWorld 2018, most notably the capabilities that will be enabled through the launch of Oracle CX Unity and the acquisition of DataFox. These advancements will enable CX clients to engage with their customers in a more informed, timely and intelligent manner.

Through CX Unity, Oracle’s customer data platform, clients will be able to create and act on a unified customer profile that is retained and enriched within the persistent data store, for use across all other CX products, whether from Oracle or a third party. Ultimately, the goal is to leverage hyperpersonalized profiles that are updated from all CX systems in real time to best engage and delight customers. Integration across all front-office systems enables sales personnel to be aware of factors that may impact a sales opportunity, like a service ticket that implies sales personnel should hold off on a pursuit until a customer’s issue has been remedied.

The data curation assets that Oracle has acquired further enrich these customer profiles and contextual points. Augmenting the largely business-to-consumer (B2C)-oriented data that many of its previous acquisitions enabled, Oracle touted the ability of the acquired DataFox platform to utilize current, relevant market data to inform business-to-business (B2B) interactions, such as identifying when a prospective customer appoints a new executive or closes a new round of funding that may make the prospect more likely to purchase. These data assets, paired with the company’s first-party data, bolster Oracle’s Adaptive Intelligence Applications (AI Apps) portfolio, which is set to expand rapidly from eight to 17 AI Apps. Among those being added to the CX suite are Lead Optimization, Smart Talking Points, TAM Expansion and Churn Prediction.

Held in conjunction with Oracle’s Modern Business Experience, Oracle’s Modern Customer Experience brought together more than 4,000 customer engagement professionals to inspire a deeper understanding of the functionality Oracle is adding to its customer experience (CX) applications and prompt adoption against competitors’ offerings.

Public cloud segment leaders projected to secure another 10% of market share by 2023

TBR estimates total public cloud market size was $165 billion in 2018. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) led the overall public cloud market, while Amazon Web Services (AWS) (Nasdaq: AMZN) maintained a strong lead on the IaaS segment and Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) delivered enough growth to sustain a top-three position in both SaaS and PaaS market share. Microsoft and AWS are expected to jointly compose nearly 40% of the public cloud market over the next five years, while Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) — fourth and fifth, respectively, in total public cloud revenue in 2018 — will fall out of the top five by 2023 due to adoption headwinds and an inability to convert established enterprise relationships into revenue growth while Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) take share.

Trend to watch

An increase in multicloud environments will position some vendors to take segment leaders’ market share.

“In the SaaS market, Microsoft Adobe and SAP have joined forces under the Open Data Initiative to challenge Salesforce’s single vendor suite,” TBR Senior Analyst Meaghan McGrath said. “Meanwhile, Alibaba and Google will embrace their role, providing additional PaaS and IaaS services to enterprises that made early investments in AWS or Microsoft.”

Public cloud remains the largest, fastest-growing segment of the cloud market. TBR’s Public Cloud Market Forecast analyzes the SaaS, PaaS and IaaS performances of leading vendors and details how hybrid deployments, new use cases for enterprise apps, and trends in emerging technology will make public cloud even more relevant in the future.

Cloud marketplaces are small in revenue impact but mighty in market impact

Cloud marketplaces are more of a slow burn compared to pronounced market impacts in books, retail and music

To predict the impact of cloud marketplaces, it is worth evaluating how similar changes in go-to-market strategies have impacted other markets. Sears (Nasdaq: SHLDQ), Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) are three very different companies that illustrate just how profound an impact sales motions can have. Sears rode the impact of its mail-order catalog for nearly 100 years in a wave of success that only recently petered out. Amazon and Apple have much broader business strategies, but both owe a considerable amount of their success — which has them jockeying for the title of the world’s largest company in terms of market capitalization — to their selling methods. Both Amazon and Apple entered well-established markets and disrupted them, not by competing on the merits of their offerings but by challenging the existing sales motion with a marketplace approach. Amazon’s online approach to the book market is a very pronounced example of marketplace disruption, as Figure 1 illustrates. Amazon began selling books online in mid-1995, overtook traditional market leader Barnes & Noble less than eight years later, and subsequently expanded and dominated the market. Today, Amazon controls over 50% of the total book market in the U.S., including both physical and digital titles.

Market overview: Online marketplaces, where customers can browse, search and then buy or subscribe to software titles, have been around for quite some time. Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) rolled out the first cloud app store in 2005, and a wide variety of new options have been introduced since. Despite their longevity, the impact of these marketplaces is still uncertain. Salesforce AppExchange is a standout success, but the impact is more nuanced for most other marketplaces and the industry overall. Marketplaces have not yet become a prominent distribution model for software and cloud services, but they play a niche role in overall go-to-market strategies that include traditional direct sales, partner-driven sales and customer self-service sales. Although marketplaces currently hold a small portion of overall cloud and software revenue share, trends could bolster their role in the market moving forward.

2019 Cloud & Software Predictions: More purchasing will be driven by intelligence rather than deployment

In 2019 customers will care less about deployment, vendors will buy more, and both sides will become more intelligent

As 2018 comes to a close, it is good to look back at some of the long-standing questions that have been settled during the year:

  • Not all workloads will move to cloud; in fact, some will move back to on-premises delivery methods.
  • There will be no single cloud that rules all others, even if Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains the IaaS front-runner.
  • Wholesale migrations of legacy workloads will not occur quickly or easily.
  • The IT department will play an important role in cloud adoption moving forward.
  • Cloud needs to deliver short-term, immediate value for customers to consider adoption. The days of yearslong implementations are over.

The market is far from mature, however, as 2019 promises even more changes. Cloud remains a generic term for many customers, but they know just how many options are now available. A growing choice of delivery methods, combined with a much-improved management tool set, will drive pervasive hybrid adoption. These options allow customers to focus more on the solution, regardless of the specific cloud delivery method, that best fits their use case. Greater customer adoption is also creating more urgency among cloud providers, which will force more acquisition investments and riskier purchases as leaders scramble to best position themselves to claim share of the growing market. Lastly, the overarching trends around analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will become increasingly pervasive. Combined, these developments should redefine the cloud market yet again during 2019.

Cloud repatriation follow-up: Do you really know the value proposition of cloud?

A few weeks ago, I blogged my thoughts about cloud repatriation and how it feels like an over-emphasized trend. In my professional analysis amid researching various reports and interacting with data center vendors, one of the key pieces of the cloud repatriation narrative is that customers will move to cloud without a full picture of the costs and ultimately retreat to a more predictable environment. Seems like a reasonable hypothesis, but has this been tested? Also, is cost really the core decision driver?

A recent call with an enterprise IT buyer shone light on this topic, as much of their story about consuming IT didn’t align to the market generalizations. For starters:

  • The buyer is in the healthcare industry but is using cloud services, even migrating some critical applications like ERP to a SaaS-based solution. Generally, it’s thought that the industries with sensitive data will stay away from cloud solutions.
  • The company typically keep $500 million in the bank at any given time, meaning the perceived challenge of capex outlay associated with on-premises solutions isn’t much of an issue to drive it to adopt off-premises cloud solutions.
  • But the real kicker? The customer indicated its cloud-based solutions are at best cost-neutral and sometimes even more expensive than their on-premises counterparts.

This came as a bit of a surprise to me, as these elements are counter to the typical IT industry narrative. If an enterprise is investing in an off-premises solution already knowing they will pay the same or more than an on-premises solution, what’s the point?

Let’s look at this particular customer’s cloud journey. Their first foray into enterprise cloud was, like for many businesses, using Office 365 and products such as Exchange for email. Based on the value seen from this implementation, including reduced management overhead and end-user benefits, they started adopting cloud-based offerings in other areas of the IT stack.

When describing the organization’s process for making decisions around acquiring IT solutions, the buyer described a fairly complex, quantitative strategy for assessing the ROI of any given solution over a three-year period. The assessment includes four facets:

  1. Will it save time? This can include making IT employees more efficient or enabling business unit employees to improve their workflows.
  2. Will it save money? A detailed calculation considers elements like license costs, management overhead and how these will change over the three-year period.
  3. Will it make money? This particular buyer works for an organization that acquires other companies often. The buyer described a scenario where using cloud solutions helped integrate an acquisition target’s data within two weeks and enabled a new product to be launched within a month of the acquisition.
  4. Will it reduce risk? Risk can take many forms, from risk of an IT outage to risk of interrupted operations or compromised IT security.

This is one example from one enterprise, but it illustrates the point that cost is far from the only factor being weighed when making choices about how IT is going to be delivered. Or at the very least, cost is not simply what you pay for a solution; decision makers must consider the many risks and benefits that spider across an organization. A higher fee for an IT solution might be a small price to pay if it increases your time to market by three times or more. Moral of the story: Know what the actual criteria are for your customers’ decision making. You may be failing to sell to their most important buying points. Or, you may be sending the wrong message!

Oracle implores enterprises to adopt its uniquely architected cloud stack

Oracle reinforces its cloud stack to accelerate enterprise cloud adoption

Oracle has a strong portfolio of cloud applications that are proving competitive in the market against more narrowly focused or less integrated SaaS competition. Oracle’s core platform and infrastructure businesses, however, are proving a harder sell, implied by financial results and qualitative context, despite significant innovations over recent years. The tone of Oracle OpenWorld 2018 mirrored its overall performance: The company is well positioned and executing in cloud application adoption initiatives, and is well positioned but facing stalling sales in the infrastructure business.

Applications updates were minimal but valuable

As Oracle executives pointed out, Oracle has been able to position itself well in the SaaS market by buying and building applications across both front- and back-office functional areas, leaving few holes in its horizontal applications portfolio. This relatively comprehensive portfolio, particularly across the back office with integrated ERP and Human Capital Management (HCM) suites, positions the company well as more customers look to adopt cloud applications — both voluntarily to achieve efficiencies, and under duress to plan migrations as other vendors’ on-premises products are given end-of-support deadlines. Strengthening the value of its applications at the annual event, Oracle announced artificial intelligence (AI)-based capability additions to its ERP and HCM portfolios, including chatbots, recommendation engines and process automation. Oracle also enhanced select supply chain management applications with blockchain-enabled tracking and controls to increase value for customers. These advancements add value for customers but do not significantly alter Oracle’s back-office portfolio.

 

 

Oracle’s (NYSE: ORCL) annual conference, Oracle OpenWorld 2018, took a different tone than in recent years. With corporate focus narrowed around the cloud portfolio, and key product foundations already in place, keynotes and announcements were more focused on improvements to existing applications and the database and infrastructure architecture underpinning all cloud services. This year’s event doubled down on themes of past years, including Oracle CEO Mark Hurd’s previous keynotes concerning macroeconomic trends and predictions for the cloud market, and introduced a panel of distinguished U.S. and U.K. security personnel that painted a bleak cybersecurity picture, subtextually in support of a secure, single-vendor cloud stack that Oracle is positioning itself to best address.

Whether by R&D or acquisition, money can’t buy SaaS performance

The SaaS market appears to provide an easy opportunity for vendors to garner significant revenue and growth. SaaS is the largest segment of the cloud market — bigger than the IaaS space, which draws so much attention due to leaders Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The SaaS market is also much more fragmented, littered with thousands of providers, which would seem to imply that consolidation is a foregone conclusion. However, even for three of the largest leading SaaS providers, the investment level required to compete in the space remains high, and even spending billions of dollars in R&D and acquisitions does not guarantee success.

This is not to say that these billions of investment dollars are all for naught. Despite being around for more than a decade, the SaaS space remains quite immature. Customers are still figuring out which of their applications can be moved to cloud delivery, and how, when and with which vendors those moves can take place. Until a longer track record exists for making these decisions and vendors consolidate disparate offerings into packages more closely resembling integrated solutions, the market remains very much in flux. It’s not the functionality holding back the adoption of hybrid solutions, it’s the difficulty of integrating and managing the multicloud and multivendor solutions. In the meantime, vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Workday have no other choice but to continue accelerating their investments. Their dollars will not buy SaaS performance in the short term, but this is the only way these vendors have a shot as the SaaS space becomes more predictable.

Whether by R&D or acquisition, money can’t buy SaaS performance

The SaaS market appears to provide an easy opportunity for vendors to garner significant revenue and growth. SaaS is the largest segment of the cloud market — bigger than the IaaS space, which draws so much attention due to leaders Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. The SaaS market is also much more fragmented, littered with thousands of providers, which would seem to imply that consolidation is a foregone conclusion. However, even for three of the largest leading SaaS providers, the investment level required to compete in the space remains high, and even spending billions of dollars in R&D and acquisitions does not guarantee success.

This is not to say that these billions of investment dollars are all for naught. Despite being around for more than a decade, the SaaS space remains quite immature. Customers are still figuring out which of their applications can be moved to cloud delivery, and how, when and with which vendors those moves can take place. Until a longer track record exists for making these decisions and vendors consolidate disparate offerings into packages more closely resembling integrated solutions, the market remains very much in flux. It’s not the functionality holding back the adoption of hybrid solutions, it’s the difficulty of integrating and managing the multicloud and multivendor solutions. In the meantime, vendors such as Oracle, SAP and Workday have no other choice but to continue accelerating their investments. Their dollars will not buy SaaS performance in the short term, but this is the only way these vendors have a shot as the SaaS space becomes more predictable.

Oracle is in too far to turn back now

By virtue of its long legacy in a diverse field of software, Oracle finds itself in a unique position with cloud solutions. Aside from databases, Oracle is a company built on acquisitions, and that approach holds true with its expansion in cloud. After first downplaying the overall concept of cloud delivery, even while acquiring cloud assets, the vendor recently quickly shifted its messaging and doubled down on internal- and external-driven innovation. The results from a dollar perspective are laid out in Figure 1, representing a steady and significant stream of acquisitions focused on building out mainly SaaS offerings and R&D that funds cloud solutions across the spectrum of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. The significant amount of Oracle’s investments is undeniable, but the returns are far from overwhelming. The downfall of Oracle’s SaaS investment plans played out quite publicly, as the company first bet it would become the first SaaS/PaaS vendor to achieve a $10 billion run rate, then recently changed its reporting structure midyear to blur the actual results.

Graph showing Oracle cloud acquisitions, R&D investments and cloud revenue for 2016, 2017 and estimate 2018

Figure 1

Oracle maintains worse performance than SAP and Workday for the return on its acquisition and R&D investments, spending more on these investments than the company generated in total cloud revenue during 2016, 2017 and 2018 (estimated). That does not mean Oracle is without successes, however, as the purchase of NetSuite, reflected in Oracle’s large acquisition expense in 2016, contributes to revenue growth and complements the organic development of Fusion Cloud ERP. A lot of Oracle’s struggles in cloud come from organic initiatives, such as its PaaS and IaaS services, which have not taken root with customers despite aggressive sales tactics. Those categories of services account for a significant portion of Oracle’s R&D investments over the past three years, but still generate relatively small revenue streams for the vendor. Nevertheless, despite the investment outweighing the associated revenue contributions, we believe Oracle will and should remain committed to its current cloud strategy. It may not pay off in the near term, but these investments are the best shot for Oracle to execute a longer-term cloud turnaround.

SAP is making all the right financial decisions, but still falling short

Though still acquisitive, SAP’s cloud strategy has been more focused on internal innovation compared with Oracle. A more even mix of R&D and acquisition investments, combined with an earlier commitment to cloud delivery, is producing a better rate of revenue return for SAP, as shown in the graph below. SAP ranks fairly close to Oracle in total cloud revenue but is achieving those run rates after incurring significantly fewer R&D and acquisition expenses. TBR estimates SAP’s combined R&D and acquisition investments for cloud were $6 billion for the past three years, compared with more than $21 billion for Oracle over the same time period.

Graph showing SAP cloud acquisitions, R&D investments and cloud revenue for 2016, 2017 and estimate 2018

Figure 2

Despite the comparatively positive financial returns for SAP in cloud, the vendor is still struggling with multiple elements of its portfolio. After allowing Salesforce to capitalize on the shift to moving front-office apps to cloud, SAP recently started circling back to carve out territory in that domain. Through multiple acquisitions in the customer experience space and new messaging, SAP is making a concerted push, but it faces an uphill battle winning more market share in that space. Furthermore, SAP’s effort with SAP Business Suite 4 HANA is a long-term one, and in the meantime, assets such as SAP Cloud Platform are underrepresented in the platform space. The net is that SAP has managed investments well and grown revenue in cloud but is still not achieving at a scale that ensures the vendor’s leadership in the SaaS space.

Workday is opening its wallet after trying the DIY route

Historically, Workday has been more reliant on internal R&D as the sole means of advancing its cloud strategy compared with Oracle and SAP. That certainly does not mean the company was shy about entering new markets or delivering new products, as Workday has rapidly increased its activities in both regards over the past three years. The addition of student, financial and now platform offerings illustrates how broadly Workday has expanded its portfolio beyond core human capital management (HCM) offerings. Part of Workday’s reliance on R&D comes from its core focus on a “single line of code,” which provides simplicity and consistency in the vendor’s offerings to customers. Integrating multiple offerings and services is part of the challenge with acquisitions, which Oracle and SAP know all too well. Workday’s past acquisitions have always been functionality-focused and intermittent. The company’s three acquisitions in 2Q18, including its $1.55 billion purchase of Adaptive Insights, is a departure from that strategy but is likely not indicative of broader plans to acquire more fully baked applications. Workday Cloud Platform will allow Workday to leverage partner-developed, inherently integrated technology to expand portfolio breadth.

Graph showing Workday cloud acquisitions, R&D investments and cloud revenue for 2016, 2017 and estimate 2018

Figure 3

The assumption that Workday’s acquisition-lite approach to investment would be advantageous is not necessarily true. Even without significant acquisitions, Workday’s investment ratio (R&D + Acquisitions/Cloud Revenue) is higher than SAP’s for the three years from 2016 to 2018. Workday had a lower ratio than Oracle, which is spending aggressively on acquisitions, but Workday ranked above SAP in internal R&D investment level proportional to revenue. Additionally, Workday’s streamlined “single line of code” approach is not guaranteeing success in new product categories. HCM revenue growth remains strong, but Workday’s new expansions in Financials and Student are not seeing accelerated early revenue growth. The new offerings are certainly growing, but not at the rate one would expect given the strong HCM base into which they can be cross-sold. The large acquisition of Adaptive Insights could be part of a change in strategy to add inorganic revenue and could lead to greater cross-selling possibilities for the Financials business.

Customer preferences are forming around hybrid and shifting around open source as vendors focus on acquisitions

Prebuilt devices are a ray of clarity amid the fogginess of hybrid

Hybrid can be a difficult thing to define in cloud computing. The term “hybrid” is overused by vendors but underused by customers, causing general confusion over its definition as well as solid examples of hybrid solutions. An area of the market that cuts through those areas of confusion is hybrid cloud integrated systems. These are physical devices (appliances) that are designed to integrate with public cloud services and can be used in customers’ own data centers. The idea that customers can physically touch the box and also integrate with external cloud services makes integrated systems one of the easiest and most obvious hybrid scenarios.

Examples of integrated systems solutions include Azure Stack from Microsoft and its hardware partners and Cloud at Customer from Oracle. While adoption and usage of these hybrid cloud solutions remain limited, the trend is picking up momentum and is prompting vendors such as Amazon and Google to move closer to competing in the space, particularly as customer demand from heavily regulated industries favors local versions of vendor-hosted cloud infrastructure. For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft are the two front-runners in the race to win the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) contract. While AWS has largely been seen as the overall favorite, its Snowball Edge offering does not meet the same bidirectional synchronization requirement of the tactical edge device that Azure Stack does.

Kubernetes season is in full swing as OpenStack falters

For large enterprise customers, open-source technologies have garnered much interest as part of their cloud strategies. The ability to utilize solutions that provide the same backbone as large cloud providers while maintaining the control associated with open source has been an attractive value proposition for those with the resources to implement and manage them. However, predicting which technologies will be the most commonly adopted has been more challenging, creating uncertainty around frameworks such as OpenStack, which has yet to garner significant momentum in the market.

Compounding the hurdles for OpenStack to overcome continues to be the ongoing explosion in growth among public cloud IaaS front-runners AWS, Google, Microsoft and Alibaba. OpenStack founders and former OpenStack pure plays are making notable shifts toward Kubernetes. The difference, though, is that Canonical and Red Hat are still holding onto OpenStack, while others, such as Rackspace, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM and Mirantis, de-emphasize it.

Customers increasingly understand the benefits of containers and container orchestration platforms and embrace the portability and interoperability they provide. According to a recent interview done as part of TBR’s Cloud Customer Research Program, a retail SVP, CIO and CTO said, “You need to make sure there are escape clauses in your contracts in case you need to get out. Once you’re in it, you’re pretty much married, and that divorce is really bad. That’s the reason we have a container. … Because if it starts to get too expensive, we want to pull it off quickly.”

This is just one example of the immediate enterprise benefits of container and container orchestration platforms, which can change the game for enterprises in terms of their cloud adoption road maps and long-term cloud plans.

Hybridization is becoming even more widespread than customers realize

While pre-integrated devices are the most obvious examples of hybrid usage, the vast majority of activity is occurring in more subtle situations. This activity is driven by the desire among vendors to sell broader solutions and the desire among customers to implement services that integrate with existing and other new technologies. The good news for both sides of the market is that there are more capabilities than ever to put those more cohesive, integrated solutions in place.

Salesforce, whose solutions are commonly integrated into hybrid environments, has taken a notable step into the hybrid enablement space by acquiring MuleSoft. The acquisition, which closed on May 1 at the start of Salesforce’s FY2Q19, brings MuleSoft’s well-known integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solution and services into Salesforce’s arsenal. The implications for Salesforce, its customers and the market are vast, as the company can create connections between its applications and the variety of other cloud and legacy systems residing in customers’ environments. Salesforce quickly leveraged the iPaaS technology, bringing Salesforce Integration Cloud to market within the first few months of having MuleSoft on board, enabling customers to augment their Salesforce applications and derive greater insights from their non-Salesforce data.