Earlier today I tweeted that I believed that the biggest threat to Amazon EC2 isn't found in any one single IaaS Cloud provider, but instead it's collectively the hundreds of regional cloud providers in the midst of launching public services. The tweet started a bit of a storm with those who believe that the economies of scale that exist within large IaaS providers will ultimately spell doom for the smaller regional players who will never be able to to compete directly with the IBM's, Google's, Microsoft's and Amazon's of the world.
I respectfully disagree. First of all it's now fairly obvious to most in the web hosting and data center space that the hosting world is moving en masse to cloud based infrastructure. This isn't a prognastication, this is happening today. With hosting companies & regional telcom's in almost every region of the world either in the midst of building or launching public cloud offerings. Just one example is Enomaly ECP customer City Networks who launched late last year. City Networks was an early mover, offering the first Cloud offering in Sweden. Within the first month of operation they had hundreds of local customers using their service. Providing further proof that location matters, their customers could of have easily choosen a broader regional service provider, one that offered an "EU" cloud, but instead they choose to use a local smaller regional cloud provider.
More established vendors like Cisco, IBM, EMC, VMware, Microsoft also see the opportunity found within regional cloud service providers and are all now actively going after this market. So to be as direct as possible, cloud enablement appears to be the biggest market currently for cloud computing and it's all about broad federated / distributed scale. Just ask one of my sales guy who are continuing to see the flood of inbound inquires for our service provider platform from more than 40 countries in the last few weeks alone.
To put it another way, the emerging group of thousands of regional IaaS / cloud service providers with relatively smaller 100-1000 server deployment may singularly be insignificant, but collectively will greatly out power that of any single Amazon or Google deployment. The economies of scale isn't that one provider going up against the much larger, better funded, and possibly better staffed incumbent player. But instead the opportunities for connecting and utilizing a global cloud of regional providers in new and amazing ways. Probably one of the best examples is that of SOASTA's CloudTest platform which is utilizing a global cloud network of both large and smaller cloud providers to simulate load on a geographic basis. Ever wonder how your application will respond from a product launch in South Korea? Well wonder no more, using actual resource in South Korea. This is the power of the regional cloud. (On a side note, at Enomaly, we're also using SOASTA's platform to help stress test our ECP deployments before they go live, it's damn cool platform)
As for interoperability, well it turns out that in an emergent market interoperability is mostly dictated by the platform with the broadest level of deployment. Not who's most open or who's cheaper or even who's technically better. It's who's the most pervasive and at the end of the day it's the install base that matters most.