Microsoft's cloud computing business is coming on strong -- really strong. Satya Nadella, executive VP for cloud and enterprise, pushed Office 365 beyond the $1 billion annual revenue run rate, as of April 2013.
What it means now: It's a safe bet Office 365 is now pushing toward a $2 billion annual revenue run rate, plus Windows Azure is coming on strong. That performance has made Nadella a strong candidate to potentially succeed Steve Ballmer as CEO.
We never say buy, sell or hold here at Talkin' Cloud. But we have tracked some of the best-performing cloud computing stocks from time to time. And in fact, this old story from 2012 still pushes into our top 10 for 2013.
What it means today: Stock performance can vary greatly from month to month and quarter to quarter. For a longer-term look at the best cloud services providers, check out our Top 100 CSP list.
Here's another holdover from 2012. Readers continue to check our look at Office 365 vs third-party hosted Exchange providers. Generally speaking, VARs and MSPs are looking to control their brand and pricing while working with hosted Exchange providers.
What it means today: Fewer and fewer MSPs and VARs are building out their own data centers. As a result, the channel push toward third-party services continues.
Intermedia, the hosted Exchange provider, suffered a massive outage in Sept. 2013. Some MSP partners were outraged. But overall, Intermedia has come on strong -- apologizing to channel partners while further expanding into hosted VoIP and unified communications services.
What it means today: In addition to mitigating the outage issue, Intermedia promised to improve social media communications if service issues pop up in the future. Ultimately, the outage was secondary news. The big news hook was Intermedia's relative silence during the first few hours of the issue.
Talkin' Cloud closely tracked rumors that IBM was going to buy SoftLayer in early 2013. But by March 2013, we raised the big question: Would buying SoftLayer or Rackspace make more sense? IBM ultimately answered the question by purchasing SoftLayer in June 2013.
What it means today: IBM has bet its entire cloud strategy on SoftLayer, killing the IBM SmartCloud initiative to put SoftLayer front-and-center. Among the reasons: SoftLayer has a strong channel partner program and really understands cloud workload automation services.
When Microsoft upgraded its Office 365 cloud suite on Feb. 27, the Google Apps team countered with several body blows. The ongoing SaaS war between Microsoft and Google delivers plenty of colorful commentary. But the real winners are cloud brokers that want easier-to-use services for their customers.
What it means today: Fast forward and the war now involves both SaaS and IaaS, thanks to Microsoft Office 365/Azure vs. Google Apps/Google Compute Engine. Let the fireworks -- and price cuts for partners and customers -- continue.
The SaaS war between Microsoft and Google shifted into vertical markets this year -- including the government sector and certainly the education market.
What it means today: Both Microsoft and Google say their SaaS businesses remain in rapid-growth mode. But we certainly see room in the market for rival business productivity SaaS providers -- including Zoho.
The Cloud Services Brokerage (CSB) term finally went mainstream in 2013. Cloud Sherpas, a top 100 cloud services provider, uses it all the time. And Gartner VP Tiffani Bova keeps explaining the CSB concept to partners and customers. But what exactly is a CSB and who offers such services? Talkin' Cloud's CSB InfoCenter offered the answers, and readers kept flocking to our coverage all year.
What it means today: More companies are entering the CSB market -- including Nuvotera, which made its CSB move in November 2013. Just be careful, folks. Some CSBs offer immature services and it's unclear how some providers are funded.
In early 2013, industry chatter suggested Google Apps cloud revenues had surpassed $1 billion. Somewhere, Google Senior VP and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora is smiling. Google has never actually confirmed the $1 billion revenue report, but we're sticking by it.
What it means today: Google sits near the top of our annual Top 100 Cloud Services Provider report and list for 2013. And the new Google Compute Engine should help to further accelerate cloud revenues at the company. Still, Google will need to more clearly articulate its strategy to SMB channel partners. And in fact... we should be sharing some more news on that front soon.
In the cloud computing software wars, the loudest shots typically involve OpenStack and CloudStack. Both are popular open source approaches to building public and private clouds. And our OpenStack vs CloudStack report in early 2013 certainly grabbed eyeballs.
What it means today: Overall, we think OpenStack is now leading the open source cloud dialog. But there's not much time to celebrate -- since Amazon's own cloud platform -- AWS -- seems to winning the IaaS war.
Here are the top 10 most read cloud services provider (CSP) news and analysis stories from Talkin' Cloud for 2013. Captions for each photo are above right.
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