If you’re like many of us at HOSTING, you may be using travel aggregators such as Priceline, Orbitz and Expedia to plan your long-awaited summer vacation. Through these sites, access to a number of airlines, hotels and car rental agencies are just a few mouse clicks away. And the best part is that you don’t have to open dozens of browser windows to a myriad of fares, schedules, cancellation fees, etc. – it can all be viewed on one dashboard. For HOSTING Chief Strategy Officer (and frequent flier) Andy Schroepfer, these online travel agencies (OTAs) aggregated these airlines, introducing the next phase of cloud computing – the unified cloud. The Defining Paper for the Unified Cloud Marketplace illustrates how Priceline, Expedia and Orbitz aggregated a trillion dollar industry for the benefit of traveler, unifying a market that showed the same characteristics as the cloud industry does today.
3 things that the airlines and the cloud industry have in common
According to Andy, the airline industry is the perfect example to study as the unified cloud develops. There are many similarities between the two industries, including the following:
1) There is a core group of suppliers
There was a time when several new air carriers entered the market each year. Competition led to customer choice and greater affordability (not to mention free cocktails and better airline food). By 2000, the airline had already undergone significant consolidation (bye bye, PanAm and Northwest Airlines). New entrants, such as Jet Blue, have been relegated to “niche player” status. This consolidation is similar to the state of cloud services where there are no new entrants – Amazon Web Services (AWS) is akin to Delta Airlines and Jet Blue is similar to Microsoft Azure.
2) There is dwindling differentiation
Looking to get away? Back in 2000, if you wanted to book a last-minute trip, you either called or visited the websites of a few different airlines to see what flights were available within your desired schedule and price range. While each airline offered slightly different pricing, departure times, seat availability, connections, etc., they all got you to your desired destination.
The same can be said of the compute, storage, or networking resource of the cloud stack. While each cloud service provider (CSP) claims to be different, most of them accomplish the same technology goals, albeit with varying success and commitment to customer service.
3) Buyer frustration is a common denominator
The lack of a single resource in which to research and purchase airline tickets was a huge waste of time. Fortunately, the airline industry paid attentions and the “unified airline industry” was born. Once this was accomplished, airlines could direct their time and attention to customer loyalty programs. The same could happen in the cloud.
Similar to the airlines, there is rising frustration from IT teams tending to multiple control panels in order to manage their organization’s cloud environments.
“It is vital to note that the airlines (suppliers) embraced the economic change early enough such that all were still able to compete and thrive in this new landscape. There is already evidence of the same story repeating in the unified cloud market, given the welcoming nature of this trend by Microsoft and Amazon”
– Andy Schroepfer, HOSTING Chief Strategy Officer
The unified cloud is coming
According to Andy, “the unified cloud is the next mega trend in cloud computing.” However it is much more than another name for hybrid cloud or multi-cloud. Simply using a different cloud platform for different applications isn’t new. However, in the future, a single control panel whose features go beyond a purchasing transaction will minimize vendor lock-in and enable a unified cloud experience.