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Posts from the ‘Hype Cycle Cloud Computing 2011’ Category

The Marketing of Cloud Multitenancy: How Early Adopters Are Killing The Hype

It’s impressive how quickly the teams evaluating CRM cloud-based applications are learning how to deflate the hype surrounding multitenancy.

One gets the impression that hype-hunting has now become a sport in these teams.  In engineering-centric companies it’s a badge of honor to find out just how multitenant a cloud-based application or platform is.  Multitenancy isn’t the only area they are looking at, but given the massive amount of hype surrounding this issue on the part of vendors, it generates more attention because evaluation teams are skeptical.

Teams evaluating CRM applications aren’t satisfied with an easily customized and used graphical interface or series of workflows, they are getting more interested in the architecture itself .  In some cases they’ve been burned by claims of an application being SaaS-based when in fact the architecture is a glorified series of Citrix-like sessions running in the background or worse.  I have seen a healthy amount of skepticism in the evaluations going on right now and recently completed of SaaS applications and entire cloud platforms.  Gartner’s inquiry calls from corporate accounts must be accelerating as their clients look for guidance on how to sort out the multitenancy hype.

CRM, Multitenancy and the Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing

Gartner’s search analytics show that cloud computing and related terms had 29,998 searches in the last twelve months with cloud computing alone generating 10,062 searches.  SaaS and related terms had a search volume of 19,000.  These terms are among the most popular across all Gartner search terms for the last twelve months.  In comparison, CRM had over 42,000 searches in the same period.

It’s in this area of CRM applications where multitenancy has gone into hype overdrive. Looking for differentiators, some CRM vendors are claiming not just multitenancy – but their specific brand of it.  This confuses their prospects, which immediately energizes evaluation teams to do a more thorough job than they have ever done before.  By claiming their own type of multitenancy, CRM vendors are ironically not just slowing down their own sales cycles, they are making the entire industry slow down.  No wonder Gartner places multitenancy along the Peak of Inflated Expectations in the latest Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing which is shown below.

Making Sense of Elasticity and Multitenancy

It’s paradoxical that enterprise software vendors, especially those selling SaaS-based CRM applications,  are attempting to turn multitenancy into a differentiator.  What is needed is a greater focus on usability, flexibility in aligning workflows to specific needs, and better enterprise integration technologies.  Sell the value not the product features.

Given the confusion differentiating on multitenancy is creating and the calls Gartner is getting on this issue, they published Gartner Reference Model for Elasticity and Multitenancy.  It includes what Gartner believes a cloud services provider must implement in terms of a multitenant service in addition to what SaaS-based applications need to provide.  Here are their checklists for each area:

Multitenancy Service Requirements for Cloud Services Providers

  • Isolation of tenant data
  • Isolation of the tenant workspace (memory)
  • Isolation of tenant execution characteristics (performance and availability)
  • Tenant-aware security, monitoring, management, reporting and self-service administration
  • Isolation of tenant customizations and extensions to business logic
  • Continuous, tenant-aware version control
  • Tenant-aware error tracking and recovery
  • Tracking and recording of resources use per tenant
  • The ability to allocate resources to tenants dynamically, as needed and based on policy Horizontal scalability to support real-time addition/removal of tenant resources, tenants or users without interruptions to the running environment

Multitenancy in Cloud Application Services (Software as a Service) Applications

  • Be available 24/7, because of the potential global user base
  • Adopt new versions without disrupting the continuous operations of tenants, and preserve user customizations
  • Scale up or down on demand
  • Allow individual rollback and restore for each tenant
  • Not allow a “noisy neighbor” tenant to affect the performance of other tenants, or increase their costs
  • Be accessible from various locations, devices and software architectures to meet potentially global demand
  • Offer tenant-aware self-service

Gartner also released their Reference Architecture for Multitenancy, which is shown below.  One of the key assumptions of this model is that multitenancy is a mode of operation where multiple, independent and secured instances of applications run in a shared environment.  The model includes the seven different models of multitenancy Gartner has seen in their research.  These seven models, listed across the top of the model beginning with Shared Nothing and progressing to Custom Multitenancy are across the top of the model.

The majority of enterprises I’ve worked with are looking to the Shared Hardware approach in an attempt to create backward compatibility to their legacy applications via Virtual Machines. Another area of interest is the Shared Container approach which relies on a separate logical or physical instance of a DBMS, and often isolates its own business logic.  This is ideal for distributed order management systems and SaaS-based ERP systems for example.  Yet the legacy application support in this type of multitenancy can get expensive fast.

Shared Everything Multitenancy is ideal for quickly on-ramping and off-ramping applications, tenants and individual system users and is what nearly all enterprise vendors claim to do.  In reality only a handful do this well.  This approach to multitenancy is based on the Shared Container approach including support for shared DBMS sessions.  Salesforce.com’s Force.com platform, VMWare WaveMaker and Zoho Creator are all examples of companies who have successfully delivered Shared Everything multitenancy.

With so much to gain by positioning an application or solution suite in the 6th and 7th models, vendors are rushing to define their own versions of Shared Everything and Custom Multitenancy.  The land grab is on in this area of the multitenancy market right now.  IBM, Microsoft and Oracle are all expected to endorse and eventually have many of their cloud-based applications in the Shared Everything model.  Each of these companies and many others will have a multi-model based approach to selling multitenancy as well.

Gartner Reference Model for Elasticity and Multitenancy

Source:  Gartner Reference Model for Elasticity and Multitenancy

Bottom line: Enterprise software vendors can accelerate evaluation cycles and sell more by differentiating on the user experience and value delivered instead of trying to create fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) by creating their own definition of multitenancy.

Gartner Releases Their Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing, 2011

Calling the hype around cloud computing “deafening”, Gartner released their annual hype cycle for the 34 different technologies in a 75 page analysis today.  You can find the Hype Cycle at the end of this post and I’ve provided several of the take-aways below:

  • The industry is just beyond the Peak of Inflated Expectations, and headed for the Trough of Disillusionment. The further up the Technology Trigger and Peak of Inflated Expectations curve, the greater the chaotic nature of how technologies are being positioned with widespread confusion throughout markets. The team of analysts who wrote this at Gartner share that conclusion across the many segments of the Hype Cycle.
  • Gartner states that nearly every vendor who briefs them has a cloud computing strategy yet few have shown how their strategies are cloud-centric. Cloudwashing on the part of vendors across all 34 technology areas is accelerating the entire industry into the trough of disillusionment. The report cites the Amazon Web Services outage in April, 2011 as a turning point on the hype cycle for example.
  • Gartner predicts that the most transformational technologies included in the Hype Cycle will be the following: virtualization within two years; Big Data, Cloud Advertising, Cloud Computing, Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Public Cloud computing between two and five years; and Community Cloud, DevOps, Hybrid Cloud Computing and Real-time Infrastructure in five to ten years.
  • There continues to be much confusion with clients relative to hybrid computing.  Gartner’s definition is as follows ”Hybrid cloud computing refers to the combination of external public cloud computing services and internal resources (either a private cloud or traditional infrastructure, operations and applications) in a coordinated fashion to assemble a particular solution”. They provide examples of joint security and management, workload/service placement and runtime optimization, and others to further illustrate the complex nature of hybrid computing.
  • Big Data is also an area of heavy client inquiry activity that Gartner interprets as massive hype in the market. They are predicting that Big Data will reach the apex of the Peak of Inflated Expectations by 2012.  Due to the massive amount of hype surrounding this technology, they predict it will be in the Trough of Disillusionment eventually, as enterprises struggle to get the results they expect.
  • By 2015, those companies who have adopted Big Data and extreme information management (their term for this area) will begin to outperform their unprepared competitors by 20% in every available financial metric. Early use cases of Big Data are delivering measurable results and strong ROI.  The Hype Cycle did not provide any ROI figures however, which would have been interesting to see.
  • PaaS is one of the most highly hyped terms Gartner encounters on client calls, one of the most misunderstood as well, leading to a chaotic market. Gartner does not expect comprehensive PaaS offerings to be part of the mainstream market until 2015.  The point is made that there is much confusion in the market over just what PaaS is and its role in the infrastructure stack.
  • SaaS performs best for relatively simple tasks in IT-constrained organizations. Gartner warns that the initial two years may be low cost for any SaaS-based application, yet could over time be even more expensive than on-premise software.
  • Gartner estimates there are at least 3M Sales Force Automation SaaS users globally today.

Bottom line: The greater the hype, the more the analyst inquiries, and the faster a given technology ascends to the Peak of Inflated Expectations. After reading this analysis it becomes clear that vendors who strive to be accurate, precise, real and relevant are winning deals right now and transcending the hype cycle to close sales.  They may not being getting a lot of attention, but they are selling more because enterprises clearly understand their value.

Source: Gartner, Hype Cycle for Cloud Computing, 2011 David Mitchell Smith Publication Date: 27 July 2011 ID Number: G00214915 © 2011

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