I don't usually talk too much about the cloud marketplace, especially when it comes to acquisitions, but with today's announcement that Dell acquires the Boomi it really got me thinking. In the past six months, two of the big cloud integration providers, Cast Iron and Boomi, have now joined the ranks of companies who have a sizable footprint in hardware. With Oracle potentially eyeing EMC, are we seeing a move that impacts Cloud Computing?

Benoit Lheureux, Research VP at Gartner, posted a great blog entry shortly after IBM agreed to acquire Cast Iron, where he said "it's about Cloud Service Integration". This is a really great way to look at it. As PAAS becomes more and more prevalent, the availability of higher order services available for consumption within, and beyond particular platforms will only grow. Look at what is happening with the Force.com Platform as an example with VMforce, the technology partnership between Salesforce.com and Vmware. Java Developers can now take advantage of Force.com services such as the security and the multi-tenant databases. Other PAAS—and even on-premise—vendors also provide compelling services, many of which run on Dell or IBM hardware.

It is a logical extension to the hardware vendors looking to provide integration that virtualization vendors are also looking at how they can increase the effectiveness and elasticity of this hardware, especially as cloud services become more prevalent. Not only will 'native' PAAS users do more on the platform they develop and deploy on, but with more options around Cloud Service Integration, the web of services available to be consumed easily, in my opinion, will only contribute to the explosive growth of larger and more complex Cloud applications.And this is a good thing for Cloud Computing!

Coming from an integration background, having been the Product Marketing Manager for WebLogic Integration, I see the importance of integration, but also the long tail complexity of it. Salesforce.com has the right idea about not stepping into domain of Integration providers (even though Benoit seems to think otherwise). What is important for a PAAS provider is to support core connectivity through technologies such as Web Services and REST as an example. When providers try to be the swiss-army knife of everything, they loose the focus on providing simplicity and ease of use rather than a smorgasbord of features and functions. It's the notion of "can do vs. optimized to do"

There is obviously a lot going on in the Cloud Computing space, with some amazing technology from many vendors, not just Salesforce.com. Perhaps this is why I am really looking forward to Cloudstock. It is often very easy in the technology space when you work for a particular vendor to get tunnel vision, and not spend time on other technologies. I try hard to avoid this, (he says with Eclipse open on one desktop and XCode on the other).My plan at Cloudstock is to get hands on with as much technology as I can, digest it all, get hands on, build stuff and share it. I am especially interested in talking to the folks from Heroku and Engine Yard. They have some great technology. The hard part is fitting it all into one day.

Luckily Dreamforce gives me another three days to soak it all up…..




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