In the early days of cloud computing, I was hoping for a more federated model of cloud providers because of my strong belief that oligarchy of cloud providers is bad for customers. I was hoping that open source infrastructure software like OpenStack, CloudStack, etc will lower the barrier for service providers to compete with Amazon Web Services (AWS). For reasons beyond the scope of this blog post, it didn’t happen and AWS gained a significant lead in the IaaS market. But the last two years are reshaping the cloud computing market. With an aggressive push from Microsoft and Google, along with public cloud initiatives of Oracle and IBM, we are beginning to see a Multi Cloud world.
Has Amazon slowed down?
Not at all. Rather, they are doubling up on their cloud push. It can be seen from the new services they offer every year (especially during the re:invent conference) and their aggressive hiring. Amazon has been setting trends in the market. Whether it is easy to use object storage like S3 or powerful database services or the newer AWS Lambda based Functions as a Service, AWS has been plowing ahead in full speed. But what has changed is the speed with which other cloud providers are executing. A multi cloud marketplace is starting to emerge.
First, and foremost, the competitors to AWS started executing well. Not only Microsoft and Google made their cloud easily consumable, they started beefing up the number of powerful higher order services available to their cloud customers. Examples include Google Spanner and Microsoft CosmosDB. But, more importantly, platforms like CloudFoundry and Kubernetes made it easy to use multiple cloud providers with an abstraction on top of the infrastructure. They removed the friction in multi cloud use cases.
When you combine these developments with the fact that the enterprise cloud market is only starting to shape up, the market is still wide open for all the cloud providers. Since the user experience with multi-cloud is also becoming more and more seamless, we will be seeing a future where multi cloud will be the norm.
What about the Hybrid cloud?
Hybrid Cloud is a different beast that helps apps bridge between the data center and public cloud. The use cases are different. Disaster Recovery, Cloud Bursting, BiModal approach to applications are the right use cases for Hybrid cloud. With multi-cloud, one can go all in with cloud native applications but with different cloud providers. One major trend I am seeing with organizations embracing multi cloud is about using different cloud providers for different workloads, driven mainly by the strengths of cloud providers offering services. For example, many organizations are considering Google cloud for big data and machine learning applications while they use their web applications using MySQL at AWS. Unlike the Hybrid cloud trend, the multi cloud trend is driven mainly by which cloud is better suited for a specific kind of application.
The multi cloud is real and the trend is driven by the varied strengths of cloud providers based on the higher order services they offer and the ability to right size the infrastructure resources. But one of the key factors for organizations to watch out in the multi cloud world is about how they manage their data. The one who controls the destiny of their data will emerge successfully in the multi cloud world.