Last week I published Part I of my goals for my participation at the Parallels Cloud Summit next week in Orlando. It’s always a great event and this year promises to be the best yet, in terms of keynotes and the quality of the attendees. The Web Hosting ecosystem is attracting a large amount of attention during the transition to cloud. Last week I covered the Shared, VPS and Dedicated Hosting spaces. This week it’s Cloud (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) and Ecommerce.
The market for Public, Private, Hybrid IaaS solutions are growing and scaling rapidly. Yes, Amazon has massive lift in their wings, but Hosting.com, SoftLayer, GoGrid, Rackspace, SingleHop, BlueLock, iNetU, etc. are all growing just fine. Again, 2012 will be a year of services. Services that make the cloud and the applications hosted on it, more integrated, more secure and more useful. Companies that focus on services are killing it. For example, I think about the success that FireHost is having with their cloud and the security services they offer like log management and two-factor authentication. The market for Cloud Computing in the SMB will continue to grow rapidly for a few years. It will also remain somewhat fragmented. This McKinsey article sums up the fragmentation nicely.
Cloud – PaaS
PaaS platforms are undoubtedly maturing at a rapid pace. While they are to date rather removed from the traditional “Web Hosting” ecosystem, I suspect that will change a lot in 2012. We have one our ecosystem’s own, Microsoft, gaining some momentum and broadening the appeal of Azure. Other leaders in PaaS including, Jelastic’s Java platform, VMware’s cloud foundry, AppHarbor, Salesforce.com’s Heroku should all be watched closely by hosting providers. At the Parallels event, I am interested in learning about hosters that are embracing the PaaS offerings and building products that incorporate PaaS features or integrate directly with platforms like Azure. There is a big opportunity to partner with these rapidly growing and developer friendly platforms.
Cloud – SaaS
Email and collaboration solutions paved the way for SaaS as some of the earliest offerings. Countless offerings have been built on the Parallels platform. In 2012 we are now in an age where multiple SaaS applications are being integrated. If you are Salesforce.com and need to integrate a new SaaS app, you can simply buy another SaaS app provider. If you are a SaaS company with a point solution, 2012 will be an opportunity to add features or integrate with other SaaS applications.
2012 will provide plenty of examples of one SaaS app integrating with another. Companies like Backupify exemplify this trend and are built on it—but what about the hosting ecosystem of SaaS application providers? I think applications from companies like MyHosting.com, Apptix, AppRiver, VARDynamics and Fpweb.net could be a spring board into other applications and business processes. Sure, email archiving and security have been a part of these offerings for years, but in 2012 we will see more CRM platforms and BI tools become integrated. As I observe HubSpot, Marketo, ZenDesk, and the dozens of other SaaS apps that are taking the SMB space by storm, I wonder: will these offerings join the hosting and Parallels ecosystems?
I am excited to hear that Parallels will be announcing additional applications at the Summit this year and will be sharing their vision for where APS (Application Packaging Standard) is going. There are so many great SaaS applications beyond email, collaboration, website building and marketing automation. Examples include MailChimp, UserVoice, Get Satisfaction. One area of great interest to me, and of great confusion for most SMBs is how to leverage SaaS solutions for Social Media. There are numerous Facebook page builders, Facebook app builders, Social Media management tools and reporting tools available. I can imagine a hoster adding services to their portfolio of offerings like GaggleAMP or Sprout Social.
E-commerce is exploding. This last holiday season set records almost every day from Black Friday to the last day of shipping before the holiday. We have gone from having a handful of shopping cart platforms like Miva, Pinnacle Cart, ShopSite and Magento to having a growing list of rapidly growing full service e-commerce offerings from companies like Volusion, Shopify, ProStores and BigCommerce. E-commerce hosting is where all the worlds collide: hosting, shopping cart applications, security services, 3rd party-add on applications and more. After this holiday season, I would be interested in hearing from hosters that are seeing growth in their e-commerce offerings.
I am very much looking forward to the Parallels Summit and the opportunity to continue these conversations with fellow attendees. I’ll be at the event with the Yottaa team, and we are eager to meet our existing hosting partners like Jess Coburn, CEO of the Windows Cloud Hosting company, Applied Innovations as well as new potential partners.
What about you? What do you want to learn and chat about at Parallels Summit? Comment below to tweet @utollwi. I would love to hear your thoughts.