Answer

What steps can IaaS providers take to stand out in an evolving market?

I had a follow-up question to your recent response to an inquiry about IaaS providers avoiding commoditization. Can you please expand on how cloud vendors can differentiate themselves? Is it really that difficult to stand out? 

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As an example, here's how we are positioning our Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering to customers. We highlight these key points for them:

  • We built our own cloud platform -- and, we believe, a better cloud platform -- on top of the free version of Citrix XenServer.
  • A former chief scientist at a major CDN provider designed our platform from day one to avoid oversubscribing our virtual machine (VM) servers.
  • We offer a 100% service-level agreement (SLA) across the board for our services and have a 13-year track record of zero downtime.
  • Owning a content delivery network (CDN) allows us to cover the entire cloud ecosystem from data center to end-user device.
  • Amazon is the only other company in the cloud industry that can make these claims, but Amazon's SLA and outage track records are not very good. Developing our own intellectual property and code also allows us to deliver features to our clients faster.
  • We feel cloud IaaS and CDN go together like peanut butter and jelly. We just cannot see how one will survive without the other.

Are we on the right track, in your opinion?

I totally agree that cloud IaaS and CDNs go hand in hand. The big challenge for so many IaaS providers over the coming years will be how they decide to react to the accelerating commoditization we are seeing in how providers offer and deliver IaaS today. The role these players take in this evolving space will be something to watch, as it might determine which business models will survive while others fail.

This was first published in January 2013

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