Cloud vendors, stop copying Amazon Web Services -- or else

They can't out-Amazon by doing what Amazon does, and IT needs to drop those providers who keep trying that strategy

I get emails daily from cloud providers that want to talk to me about news service they are offering, services that look a lot like the old ones their competitors -- typically, Amazon Web Services -- already furnish.

You guys in the enterprise are trying to figure this out as well: Should you go with the brands that you know and are already in-house? Or should you go with the brand that seems to be leading the pack (again, typically meaning AWS)? For the most part, enterprises are picking the pack leaders.

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The fact that Amazon leads the cloud computing pack drives a lot of the established enterprise providers nuts. In response, they push out release after release, offering new services and features. However, these new services and features often lack any sort of creativity and innovation. They continue to lose market share because, at the end of the day, there is no compelling reason to use their services over those of AWS and other pack leaders.

Here's the latest example of this sad me-tooism: Verizon's announcement that it will now offer Oracle technology as a service. Amazon and others go there first, but Verizon claims to do it better. Although I'm sure that's the case, there is no knockout punch to propel Verizon -- or other second-, third-, and fourth-place providers -- ahead of Amazon.

Established enterprise providers often tell IT that they're planning a number of acquisitions to "shore up" their cloud offerings. Yet, when they make such "strategic acquisitions," these providers tend to fall short of gaining any value from the investment. The innovative founders whose companies are acquired just leave to start new, innovative startups. The established vendor ends up holding a lot of code that it doesn't know what to do with. In fact, most acquisitions fail to deliver any real value to customers.

For the established vendors seeking to matter in the cloud, the solution is simple: Take some risks. Don't just follow your competition -- build something interesting and innovative, a game-changer with clear value to customers that use cloud-based platforms. If you don't know what to build, then hire people who can drive the creative side for you.

If you work in IT and want to continue to rely on your established providers, I suggest you push your non-Amazon providers to stop following Amazon and to instead think about leading. If little or nothing changes, I suggest you move on. There's no reason to hang on to a provider out of a sense of nostalgia or history if it's not delivering a strong value in the here and now.

This article, "Cloud vendors, stop copying Amazon Web Services -- or else," 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.

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