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.

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.

Webscale competition increases among carrier cloud providers

Combined Cloud as a Service revenue for telecom operators in Technology Business Research Inc.’s (TBR) 2Q18 Carrier Cloud Benchmark rose 26.3% year-to-year in 2Q18 due to strategic acquisitions and alliances, investments in new data centers, and portfolio expansion in growth segments such as SaaS and hybrid cloud. All benchmarked companies sustained year-to-year Cloud as a Service revenue growth in 2Q18 as significant opportunity remains for carriers to target businesses seeking greater cost savings, scalability and efficiency by migrating traditional infrastructure and applications to the cloud.

Certain Asia- and Europe-based operators including China Telecom, Telefonica and Orange accelerated Cloud as a Service revenue growth in 2Q18 as the companies benefit from data sovereignty laws, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requiring cloud data to be stored in local data centers, which is slowing the growth momentum of U.S.-based webscale providers in these regions. Pressure from U.S.-based webscale providers will continue to increase over the next five years in Asia and Europe, however, as they ramp up data center investments and partner with local data center providers to gain traction in these regions.

Graph showing total Cloud as a Service revenue and year-to-year revenue growth for benchmarked carriers in 2Q18


TBR’s Telecom Practice provides semiannual analysis of Cloud as a Service revenue in key segment splits and regions for the top global carrier cloud operators in its Carrier Cloud Benchmark. Operators covered include Bharti Airtel, British Telecom, CenturyLink, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, Korea Telecom, NTT, Orange, Singtel, Telefonica and Vodafone.

Carriers focus on supporting hybrid and multicloud environments

Public and private cloud revenue 2017 to 2022 graph

More customers are integrating solutions from multiple providers  

Total Cloud as a Service revenue from the telecom market rose an estimated 13.5% year-to-year to $6.5 billion in 2017, and opportunity remains for carriers to target businesses seeking greater cost savings, scalability and efficiency by migrating traditional infrastructure and applications to the cloud. However, TBR projects revenue growth will decelerate to an 8.8% CAGR through 2022 as webscale providers become more dominant in the market. Though carriers have launched new native public cloud platforms over the past several years, such as Orange’s Flexible Engine and Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) Open Telekom Cloud, these offerings have not been able to overshadow demand for webscale solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google that are becoming staple services for businesses.

Competition will intensify over the next several years as webscales seek to play a larger role within the European and Asian cloud markets by investing in additional data centers in the regions. Amid demand for solutions from webscales in the cloud market, most carriers are offering access to these companies to complement their existing cloud portfolios and to support hybrid cloud and multicloud environments. Carriers are also integrating webscale cloud platforms to enhance adjacent portfolio segments such as IoT and unified communications as well as augment network platforms including SD-WAN and IP-VPN.

The overall cloud “as a Service” market is maturing, particularly in North America, where engagements are no longer vendor-hosted or on-premises only. As cloud adoption becomes more widespread, hybrid IT environments are the new normal, blending multiple cloud and traditional IT environments and services within each engagement to better integrate and utilize solutions. Providing access to a diverse range of solutions from multiple vendors is essential for carrier cloud providers to support customers’ hybrid environments as they become more complex. Multivendor hybrid environments involve complex integration logistics, as well as multiple security protocols, causing customers to favor cloud providers with broad portfolios.

For more information on TBR’s Carrier Cloud Market Forecast, contact Analyst Steve Vachon at [email protected].

Is ‘cloud repatriation’ real?

Cloud repatriation is real, but not real enough to change the prevailing cloud trajectory. Think of it as the exception, and not the rule.

It’s a question I’ve heard multiple times: “We heard that [insert giant company name] is taking their apps/data off [insert giant public cloud vendor name] and moving it back into their own data center. Is this the beginning of a big shift?” If your job is in any way related to selling products or services for enterprise data centers, “cloud repatriation” sounds like a promising concept. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft have been eating the lunch of a whole bunch of IT companies, and those IT companies would like that lunch back, thank you very much. But is the exodus of customers from public cloud really happening? Well, I have some good news and some bad news.

Bad news first: Cloud repatriation is not a market-changer

Cloud repatriation is not real in the sense of being a major, market-shifting trend worthy of its own buzzword. I will not deny the existence of one-off customers making a monumental shift away from public cloud. TBR sees anecdotal evidence of companies leaving public cloud environments, but we don’t see a wholesale move to strictly on-premises environments. The numbers tell it all: TBR estimates the PaaS and IaaS market grew 16% overall in the second quarter, with the big three juggernauts (AWS, Microsoft, Google) growing 58% on average within the segment, accounting for about $10 billion of the quarterly segment revenue. If anything, the public cloud market is moving toward an oligopoly as it consolidates. But it’s not shrinking. The market growth is far outpacing the loss of any customers that may be defecting.

The good news: Companies continue to use on-premises data centers, negating the need for repatriation

Very few companies see a future without owning some kind of data center. Apps that never leave the data center do not need to be repatriated in the first place (although they will likely need to evolve to a more agile and scalable delivery method). As you can see in Figure 1, the bulk of companies expect to maintain a roughly even mix of on-premises apps and those in hosted cloud environments. Smaller companies are most aggressive in their desire to reduce their on-premises footprint while the largest companies make it clear they don’t see a future in hosting everything. These projections make sense to me, especially based on my conversations with IT execs in small and large enterprises. Smaller companies tend to be concerned about the proficiency of their own data center while larger companies are full of complexities that make moving to a new environment a challenge.

Application hosting strategy by number of employees

The reality: Most companies seek a balance

By and large, companies are evaluating the best fit for workloads, acknowledging that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Regardless of the type of cloud(s) being used, more than 80% of users will either maintain or expand their environments over the next three years. The proportion of buyers planning for public cloud expansion exceeds that of those engaging in on-premises private cloud expansion. But the fact remains that there is not a mass exodus from any specific environment. Regardless of environment, changes and evolutions will occur, even within self-built private clouds.

Companies' expected changes in current cloud usage for 2018, 2019 and 2020

Given that business-to-business buyers are all over the map when it comes to cloud adoption, where can IT vendors succeed? There’s no easy answer, however, when discussing this topic with my colleague Senior Analyst Cassandra Mooshian, she had this to say:

“Recognizing there will be both exceptions and changes for most customers over the next three years is important for vendors, regardless of their cloud point of view. Yes, there will be workloads that have migrated to cloud that will move back to a traditional or on-premises delivery method. However, there will also be services deployed on premises that could eventually be moved to a cloud environment as customer needs and costs change. Something simple, yet critical, for vendors is to understand that no two IT environments are the same, especially across market tiers. Vendors may want their customers to go all-in on cloud, but that just is not feasible for larger organizations or even smaller companies in regulated industries or regions.

“The key to vendor success is to understand that there will be workloads best suited for cloud, while others may work just fine in legacy environments. The kicker will be in helping customers embrace hybrid, understand what works best where, and ultimately integrate and orchestrate it across each customer’s unique blend of legacy and cloud workloads. Once trust is established and there’s a mutual understanding around the idea that all options can and should be considered, that’s when long-term relationships start, and each company has a ‘favorite’ vendor or two.”

To discuss this topic further or learn about TBR’s cloud customer research, contact me at [email protected].


TBR launches new Cloud Customer Research reports covering infrastructure and applications adoption

Recognizing that a more mature cloud market needs deeper customer insight, Technology Business Research, Inc. (TBR) is launching two new programs: Cloud Applications Customer Research and Cloud Infrastructure Customer Research. While the vendor landscape is solidified from a leadership perspective, customer behavior has become even more difficult to decipher. TBR’s new programs will help subscribers to plan and take action to win more cloud business.

Many of the simple workloads, such as development & test, CRM and productivity, have moved to the cloud, but exactly what services will move next and how remain difficult questions to answer. TBR’s Cloud Customer Research reports address these new market realities, providing direct feedback on leading and emerging vendors and focusing the analysis on specific workloads in both the applications and infrastructure domains.

Insight provided through in-depth customer interviews allows subscribers to understand the nuance involved with customers’ cloud usage and leverage that information to directly influence their positions in the market. The result of the research is clear identification of market size, leading vendor share, vendor perception, vendor strengths and weaknesses, and case studies on workload adoption.

The two new Cloud Customer Research streams deliver insight that can be used internally to plan business strategies and field guides that can be used externally to initiate and close more competitive deals. While the two research streams will cover different markets (applications and infrastructure), they have a similar structure: analyzing market opportunity, customer behavior, vendor position and perception; offering engagement scenarios and field guides; and providing interview excerpts. TBR will conduct 400 surveys and 100 interviews annually as part of this program and will publish the two reports in September and March.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].


Carriers are focused on supporting hybrid and multicloud environments as more customers integrate solutions from multiple providers

HAMPTON, N.H. (July 18, 2018) — According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) Carrier Cloud Market Forecast 2017-2022, total Cloud as a Service revenue from the telecom market rose an estimated 13.5% year-to-year to $6.5 billion in 2017, driven by portfolio and geographic expansion. However, TBR projects revenue growth will decelerate to an 8.8% CAGR through 2022 as webscale providers become more dominant in the market. Though carriers have launched new native public cloud platforms over the past several years, such as Orange’s Flexible Engine and Deutsche Telekom’s Open Telekom Cloud, these offerings have not been able to slow customer demand for webscale solutions from providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google that are becoming staple services for businesses.

“Carrier cloud providers will emphasize hybrid and multicloud solutions over the next five years as customers look for integrated suites and ties to existing network and IT assets,” said TBR Analyst Steve Vachon. “Carriers are focused on fostering deeper interoperability and accessibility to webscale solutions to support hybrid and multicloud environments and bolster revenue from value-added services as well as from network platforms such as SD-WAN and IP-VPN.”

TBR’s market forecast also examines how carriers are integrating emerging technologies to enhance their cloud portfolios. Total other cloud (which includes SaaS, PaaS and BPaaS) revenue from the telecom market increased an estimated 16.2% year-to-year to $2.2 billion in 2017, driven by the adoption of services including unified communications, CRM and office productivity solutions. These workloads will become more deeply integrated with artificial intelligence and analytics capabilities over the next several years, which will create new cross-selling opportunities for carriers. Carriers are also integrating NFV and SDN technologies to enhance their enterprise solutions, enabling operators to offer a more agile cloud portfolio that can be delivered with greater quality of service to customers on demand.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].



Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, and telecom vendors and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. Our analysts are available to address client-specific issues further or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

TBR has been empowering corporate decision makers since 1996. For more information, please visit

Hybrid, multicloud, reunited partners featured in TBR’s upcoming cloud & software research

Going into the second half of 2018, TBR’s Cloud and Software Practice anticipates providing additional research around a few issues that have been top of mind among TBR’s clients and our analysts. The common theme across the three issues highlighted in this report is the growing focus on how cloud and software are jointly being used to deliver real solutions for customers. Highlights of the research center on how establishing hybrid capabilities is a primary challenge for enterprises and a growth driver for vendors, from the initial design and integration through to the ongoing management and optimization of the increasingly complex environments. Additionally, offering multicloud is the first priority for customers and creates opportunities for vendors other than category leaders such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Salesforce. Lastly, partnerships that were previously threatened by cloud are now realigning for new opportunities created by on-premises hybrid delivery and solution bundling. Look for more insight into these topics in our upcoming research.

Hybrid enablement is an increasingly critical predictor of vendor success
There is no question that cloud and software solutions are being increasingly deployed into hybrid environments and have been for some time now. The real customer pain point in regard to a truly hybrid environment — one or more cloud assets integrated with one or more on-premises assets for the seamless flow and sharing of data — is around enabling each of the solutions to fit into the environment and integrate with the others for optimal utilization.

Cloud and software vendors alike are investing to capitalize on this growing opportunity around empowering enterprise IT departments to integrate sprawling environments on their own, with the help of automated tools and platforms. Salesforce’s acquisition of MuleSoft is one of the more noteworthy examples as it has vast implications for both Salesforce and the market. This is because MuleSoft offers licenses alongside its subscription offerings despite Salesforce’s “No software” mantra, and because many organizations utilize one or more of Salesforce’s cloud offerings, which will soon feature and/or be integrated with Salesforce Integration Cloud, a solution that will be based on MuleSoft’s well-known Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS).

Software vendors are making similar investments, such as Red Hat announcing its own iPaaS — Fuse Online — and VMware’s continued updates to the vRealize cloud management suite. Additionally, many continue to expand their partnerships with cloud vendors and systems integrators to improve their hybrid technology and hybrid enablement portfolios, increasingly going to market with a software-led services approach.
Cloud brokerage and hybrid integration pure plays continue to generate buzz as well, providing attractive solutions for enterprise IT departments struggling to keep pace with integrations, orchestration and skill sets. We expect some of these vendors to be acquired over the next couple of years as cloud and software vendors look to quickly build out their hybrid integration and enablement tool sets.

Consolidation around leading PaaS & IaaS vendors does not reduce competition
The public cloud IaaS market, substantially made up of businesses that complement scalable infrastructure with general purpose PaaS, has consolidated around the four leading U.S.-based cloud vendors — AWS, Microsoft, IBM and Google — and one international vendor, Alibaba, which has been successful in the highly exclusive Chinese market and is diligently focused on effectively competing with these U.S.-based vendors on an international stage.

Among the insights gleaned from TBR’s upcoming Cloud Infrastructure & Platforms Customer Research, it is becoming evident that even in discrete use cases and niche industries, the general-purpose nature of these vendors has enabled them to be considered across needs. Many customers agree that there is a delicate equilibrium yet to be found in first balancing on-premises and cloud deployments, and then balancing vendor lock-in concerns, usage volume discounts, vendor specializations and multivendor environment complexity. TBR will closely watch and assess how each vendor overcomes its perceived downfalls and positions itself to help customers best weigh the benefits and drawbacks of increasing cloud adoption.

In particular, customers almost universally recognize Google Cloud as the third option behind AWS and Microsoft Azure, citing TensorFlow as a key technology that will drive Google’s growth into a more prominent cloud vendor, but in the same breath identify that Google’s enterprise vision has not matured from “talk the talk,” particularly outside of the executive office of Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene. Meanwhile, Azure has become a viable alternative to AWS for many customers that note general ubiquity in each vendor’s ability to support various enterprise needs. TBR expects the closeness in AWS and Azure functionality, strained by the maturation of Google’s enterprise vision and Alibaba’s increasingly competitive entry into Western markets, will cause the converging market to grow quickly around this competition.

Partnerships are being both stressed and created as the cloud market evolves
The increased focus on cloud delivery methods has certainly stressed many long-held partnerships between traditional hardware, software and service vendors. The model of solution creation, distribution, installation and support was one that had multiple participants in the traditional model but became more focused on the cloud provider in the transition to cloud. Cloud is also an opportunity for new or nascent vendors to take share in markets such as business applications, where SAP and Oracle have been dominant. SaaS vendors fill portfolio gaps and augment vendor offerings for verticalized use cases, enabling legacy players such as Microsoft and SAP to adapt and compete with born-on-the-cloud providers. An example of this shift in vendor landscapes comes with the release of Dynamics 365 Business Central, which will help Microsoft gain footing over SAP in the SMB space for business applications and provide new opportunity for Microsoft’s SaaS partners. However, as each vendor expands its cloud portfolio, its respective ecosystem will be required to adapt. SAP’s acquisition of CallidusCloud will improve the vendor’s position in the cloud front-office space, but it also places SAP in direct competition with its ecosystem of Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) providers. Now more than ever, the market will see vendor shares susceptible to ongoing changes as the market for core business applications remains relatively immature for cloud.

Hardware and services partners were previously hard hit in the transition to cloud but will have more opportunities with a growing mix of public and private cloud options becoming available. Microsoft will continue to leverage hardware and services partners to deliver and implement its hosted private cloud, Azure Stack, which has already doubled its geographical reach in recent months. This new opportunity for longstanding hardware partners such as Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise to collaborate in delivering Microsoft’s Azure Stack offering does little to offset the erosion those vendors have seen as Microsoft built out its own Azure public cloud offerings, reducing customer demand for hardware.

Note: TBR provides extensive, sustained coverage of the strategies and select performance metrics of all the vendors mentioned above, as well as their competitors and key technology partners. Contact the authors for additional details.

By Allan Krans, Practice Manager and Principal Analyst; Cassandra Mooshian, Senior Analyst; Meaghan McGrath, Senior Analyst; and Jack McElwee, Research Analyst