A Cloud to Fill the Sky
Amazon Web Services continues to be the major disrupter of the industry. AWS is large enough to manage its infrastructure at scale; to the point that it says it has lowered its costs to clients 15 times over four years. As Amazon grows to be all things to all people, one can expect the company will push its Web services with the same determination it has shown in competing with major retailers in online merchandise. Amazon works hard to recruit startups to join AWS in addition to its strategy of attracting bigger clients. Considering how many people already use Amazon for everything from renting movies to buying TVs, Amazon’s cloud, and its ambitions, should give the rest of the industry pause.
Open Source of Cloud Services
While Amazon strives to be the biggest proprietary cloud in the sky, others are looking to stand out with open source in their services, offering cloud flexibility to its clients as one way to compete. In Rackspace’s third-quarter earnings call, the discussion focused on how it spent the year converting to the open cloud model. The appeal for some people is the ability to run their cloud from anywhere they want, not locked into one data center. This option could be increasingly enticing to clients as outages now rise to the level of citywide blackouts in media coverage.
High-Profile Hosting’s Risks
As more cloud services become available and attract high-profile sites, service disruptions now are big news. Social media outlets have become public megaphones, and news of service disruptions spread quicker and louder than ever. Amazon and GoDaddy both have had their share of this issue, and it was not just the outage that challenged them. In separate instances, hackers claimed responsibility for bringing these Web giants down and making headlines of their own. It then becomes a matter of business to say the service suffered internal failures unrelated to hacking. In the aftermath of damage control on these outages, clients are becoming more aware of what can go wrong on their provider’s cloud.
What Have You Done for Me Lately?
Most major tech companies were in the fight for their lives during 2012’s sluggish economic recovery, and that was good news for clients. More services are available now for sites to draw from courtesy of their Web hosts. The year also saw an aggressive turnaround campaign for former superstars such as Yahoo. The company began to step up its game for tools offered to small-business Web hosting and could be a company to watch in 2013. Not to be outdone, Bluehost also offers new features, such as a business search filter and Yext.
IPv6: Time Marches On
The move toward IPv6 enabled domains for the U.S. government is moving forward, but not nearly as fast as in other parts of the world. An early fall deadline passed without many U.S. government systems IPv6 enabled. A review of this process shows varying degrees of success, but overall less than a quarter of the domains are operational in the government. In contrast, IPv4-exhausted India announced in late November that IPv6 addresses were available through the Indian Registry for Internet Names and Numbers. By June 2013, North America will have assigned its last IPv4 address, according to ZDNet. The result is that the IPv4 “famine” may finally force a majority of businesses and government entities to get on board with the new system.
The 800-Pound Gorilla on the Internet
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is still a complex array of lawsuits and injunctions. Web hosts are skittish of legal takedowns, so most err on the side of caution to stay out of court. Facebook and Twitter, for all the public outrage their copyright rules may stir among users, actually have served a purpose in introducing the general public to these issues. The downside is the public still has a long way to go in understanding the rules, as an alarming number of users still believe a simple posting on Facebook guarantees their personal ownership of material.
The Legacy of 2012
As more people become aware of their cloud options and certain players become the dominant figures in Web hosting, more attention is paid to quality of service and all of the bells and whistles included for a bargain price. Consumers are becoming more perceptive of options available, and the industry is continuing to find ways to lower costs and drive competition while trying to prevent headline-grabbing service outages. Going into 2013, the industry may begin to show signs of consolidation as means of survival in an increasingly competitive market.