Cloud-related acquisitions seem to be as plentiful as pollen in the air these days.
On the same day, CA Technologies announced the acquisition of Layer 7 and Nolio. Layer7 is all about managing the APIs that glue apps together in datacenters; Nolio focuses on application service workflow design (now that’s a mouthful). The connection to cloud is clear.
Meanwhile, rumors are swirling about IBM, EMC, and AT&T looking to acquire SoftLayer, the largest privately held IaaS provider that’s not in the AWS, OpenStack, or CloudStack orbits. I wouldn’t be surprised if half a dozen similar stories pop in the coming weeks.
What’s behind the spring fever?
Predictions of strong market growth in all cloud-related sectors of the economy abound and inorganic growth is a time-honored strategy that the big boys use to compete on innovation—so it’s no surprise that the appetite for small and innovative players in cloud is strong. But I think something deeper is going on. It’s a war for developer mindshare.
Part of the reason why Microsoft enjoyed such strong growth in the 80s and 90s was that it had done a superb job of collecting a large community of developers who used Microsoft’s compilers, IDEs, and libraries. A strong developer ecosystem is also at the root of Xbox’s success.
Amazon seems to be headed down a similar path with cloud. Recent reports from Gartner show Amazon/AWS almost alone in the upper right visionary leaders quadrant for IaaS. Importantly, inquiries by developers about how to write for cloud platforms are skewed in Amazon’s direction by a similar amount.
I think this puts the spate of cloud acquisitions in a slightly different light. It’s not just about acquiring customers or revenue—it’s about acquiring mindshare with the folks that build the DevOps solutions of tomorrow. Anybody lacking a seat at that table is going to regret it fairly soon.