Lately, perhaps due to the changing of the year and the prognostications it arbitrarily seems to require, I've been getting a lot of queries regarding the marketing size of cloud. Often, they are not any further defined: What is the market opportunity for cloud?


Since my new years' resolution is to rant more openly in blogs and less frequently at individuals, I've tried not to respond with my instinctive "that sentence doesn't even mean anything!!" reply, sensing that it doesn't tend to win me any friends. But, this curtailing of my heartfelt emotion has me bursting at the curmudgeonly seams. So, I'd like to clarify the source of the pain...


We all know there are numerous types of clouds. Private, Public, SaaSy, etc. To me, you can credibly ask the questions:


  • What is the market opportunity for business applications in a SaaS model? Or any other subset of applications, delivered in a SaaS model.
  • What is the market for externally-hosted development services in a PaaS model? And then, you can break it up by .Net and LAMP.
  • What is the market for management tools that govern the behavior of a public cloud, whether it's SaaS, PaaS, IaaS or WaaS? (I made that last one up)
  • What is the market for management tools that govern the behavior of a private cloud? And then, you can break it up by industry.


These are all legitimate questions - and I'm sure there are actually plenty more. Do let me know if you find the answers - most analyst firms haven't put that stake in the ground, and I don't blame them. The biggest challenge, in my mind, is that all forms of cloud are unleashing a tremendous amount of pent up IT demand, and thus the market is much greater than the pre-cloud market for the same type of technology.


Even if you had all these subcomponents, you can't roll all these up into one "Total Cloud Market". Why? Because you're mixing apples and oranges, and creating the impression that the market is a single market. Enterprises are buying from service providers. Enterprises are buying from management solutions companies. Developers are buying from Service Providers. Service providers are buying from management solutions companies. We're talking about an entire ecosystem.


The equivalent would be to ask the size of the car market, and then, starting with total auto sales, add in "total engine block sales" and "total car stereo sales" and "total automotive sheet metal sales." You're double-counting and under-counting at the same time.


How big is the cloud? The pie is big enough for everyone to have a piece. Bring your forks, and root for lemon meringue.


To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me at