Capellas to partners: The cloud has already won

Michael CapellasFile Michael Capellas under the category of cloud converts.

Speaking at last week’s Cisco Partner Summit 2011 in New Orleans, the former Compaq chief executive and current CEO of the Virtual Computing Environment joint venture amongst Cisco Systems, EMC and VMware, made an impassioned case for the cloud’s dominance of the future of computing.

Stopping just short of “resistance is futile” territory, Capellas offered a simple thesis: The cloud has already won because the consumer has decided it has.

And an informal show of hands survey among the thousands of partners at the show seems to suggest his audience agrees with his assessment.

Capellas offered a variety of proof points for the growth of the cloud as the dominant way for consumers to interact with technology, including 25 million concurrent Skype users at the service’s peak.

But having watched the evolution towards the cloud since 2003 or 2004, Capellas was in the mood to make some bold predictions. To see the future of the cloud, one only has to look at the history of networking – the most open, most flexible and most future-ready platform will win the day in compute, just as Internet Protocol did in networking.

“The probability of [the cloud] becoming the foundation for the industry for the next three to five years is 100 per cent,” Capellas said.

That 100 per cent probability figure was one that Capellas touched on multiple times throughout his speech, where he called cloud “not a buzzword” but the culmination of seven to ten years of developments that are “impossible to reverse” at this point.

Just like IP networks led the way with price performance, the abundance of x86-based servers, particularly in blade server formats, have changed the way people think of scale when it comes to computing power, Capellas argued. The movement from scale up to scale out is complete, and today, x86 blade servers represent one in five x86-based systems built.

And unsurprisingly, given Capellas’ position across the Cisco/EMC/VMware joint venture, he predicted that “best of breed” will be the dominant model when it comes to building clouds, differentiated from both the larger public cloud plays of Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, and the single vendor stacks Capellas said were offered by infrastructure rivals including HP, IBM and Oracle.

“You will see these stacks become more virtual, more vertical and we will deliver those stacks more and more with the ability to go turnkey on those stacks,” he said. “We intend to be the innovator and the pioneer.”

Capellas’ other cloud prognostications include:

  • Expect to see development cloud projects in the next six months, driving the same kind of momentum around business app that the mobile app stores have driven in the consumer space;
  • Cloud will drive the converged infrastructure market to $50 billion (U.S.) within three years;
  • Private cloud will lead, taking up to 80 per cent of the cloud market;
  • Virtual infrastructure will continue the “flight to quality;” with better quality beating out the cheapest components due to the mission critical nature of the cloud;
  • Cloud-based applications will drive productivity gains to the tune of 50 per cent or better;
  • Applications built on and around the cloud will lead to a “fundamental shift in application development” unlike anything the market has seen in the last decade; and
  • True cloud standards will emerge.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity for all of you to lead this,” Capellas told partners in summary. “Go sell something because this stuff’s hot.”