AWS and Azure dominate the cloud. Neither should win

As we close out another AWS Re:Invent conference, it’s become apparent that we have the AWS ecosystem and the Azure ecosystem. Although there are a few others in the marketplace, Google and IBM to name two, most investment and interest have been focused at the Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure public clouds thus far.

Even the big enterprise technology providers have realized that they must focus on providing technologies that are complementary to AWS and/or Azure. They can’t enter the cloud market on their own, so they must align to a core provider.

As a result, some enterprises fear that too much control is in the hands of just two cloud providers. Well, it could be worse: There could be just one.

I believe that the cloud technology space is in a good place with two major ecosystems, plus several minor ones. But enterprises should be careful not to pick one over the other. Indeed, it’s becoming a multicloud world, so enterprises will (or should) have at least two major public clouds in use, as well as several specialized clouds such as for SaaS (such as Workday or Salesforce) or geographically focused public cloud providers (such as Alibaba).

I do share the concern about overconcentration of power. My fear is that too many enterprises will place single bets on one cloud, and thus one cloud ecosystem, over another. That will lead to either a single dominator, or to separate, incompatible ecosystems. Either way, that means any particular enterprise and its vendor portfolio are locked to one ecosystem.

So, it’s now even more incumbent on enterprises to take the time to understand the business and technology requirements, and only after that pick the best providers—plural.

In my own work, I ignore the ecosystems initially when I do complex cloud architecture. Instead, I focus on the technology in general, the core requirements, and then the technology that’s part of one ecosystem—or both.

Most enterprises do this backward, focusing on the ecosystem first, and end up with the wrong solution set. These enterprises set us all on the path of too much dominance by a particular vendor.

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