At first glance, it may seem odd that Google is buying Stackdriver, a cloud-monitoring startup that has been largely focused on supporting Amazon Web Services. It would make more sense for Amazon to buy Stackdriver.
Except that Google likely isn't buying Stackdriver as much for its customers' use as for denying it to AWS customers, as well as to customers of other cloud providers. AWS is Google's biggest rival in cloud offerings, after all.
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So why didn't Amazon buy Stackdriver to bolster its AWS even more as a competitive advantage over Google? Probably because Amazon seems to be taking a build-your-own approach to its AWS cloud development -- a strategy that seems to be working well. So, Amazon isn't likely to make many acquisitions to shore up technology it can easily build itself. For example, AWS's existing monitoring technology is not bad, so Amazon doesn't need to buy someone else's to shore it up.
Both Google and AWS have an enviable amount of cloud-development resources. Moreover, they've both proven they can build Web-scale cloud services. However, Google is way behind AWS in terms of market share, so removing some of the smaller, AWS-focused companies could be a good way to tilt the technological playing field more in its favor faster.
This strategy is not new or unique to Google. Back in the day, Microsoft bought bit players to keep buyers focused on Office, Windows, or SQL Server rather than reaping the benefits of the acquired technology directly. Buying technology so no one else can use it, even if you don't really want to use it yourself, can be an effective business approach, as odd as that may seem.
As the cloud game gets more intense, I suspect we'll see Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and a few others engage in a game of cloud chess, sacrificing pawns here and there to advance their strategies. Users may lose access to some useful third-party technologies as a result -- but for the major providers, that's OK.
This article, "Stackdriver is a pawn in the fight between Google and Amazon Web Services," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.