It’s come down to AWS vs. Microsoft Azure—too bad

The market consolidation will cause many enterprises to miss out on good technologies from smaller providers like Google Cloud Platform. That’d be a shame

In enterprise cloud computing, it’s AWS vs. Microsoft Azure

Have you watched the recent earnings reports lately? Amazon posted total revenue across all segments of $43.7 billion for the quarter. Amazon Web Services contributed just over 10 percent of that at $4.6 billion. If you’re keeping track, AWS’s revenue increased 41 percent from this time last year. That’s impressive growth, and right in line with the explosive growth of cloud computing in general. 

Then we have Microsoft, which posted total revenues of $24.5 billion. Although the company does not give specific numbers for Azure, the company’s “intelligent cloud” segment (more Azure) went up 13 percent to $6.9 billion over the last year, and the “productivity and business processes” segment (more Office 365) grew 28 percent to $8.2 billion.

These numbers show that the growth of the public cloud IaaS market is concentrated around two providers: Amazon and Microsoft. The market is living up to the adage “success breeds success.” There’s an established buying pattern in IT, where we chase the most successful providers, or at least those perceived as such.

However, I can’t help but think that we’re leaving a few cloud services behind that deserve enterprise IT consideration. 

So what about the other provider in the public cloud space? Google, which holds a distant third, has yet to prove that it can play in the enterprise. However, it does have some nice niche cloud services that could provide technology entry points for some companies, including containers, big data processing, and machine learning. If you’re going after those technologies, Google is worth a look.

Others, such as Oracle and IBM, are still working their way into the public cloud space.

What’s positive about having two major providers is that enterprises are looking for cloud solutions that are less complex. That means going after AWS or Azure is not a bad play, considering that the enterprise can focus on one set of technologies and one set of skills. Moreover, both providers are getting close to providing one-stop shopping that will include governance, security, big data, serverless, and container technology. 

Many enterprises prefer a single provider, under the theory that it’s easier to manage one vendor than several, and easier to integrate technologies from one vendor versus from several. But what you can lose is what used to be called “best of breed” technology. where you take the best from an array of providers to get the best possible mix, rather than take a predefined mix of top-notch and inadequate tools from a single vendor.

If you work from your business and technology requirements to determine your technology choices, you may find that a mix-and-match multicloud approach is more optimal than settling after a single provider. You’ll get trade-offs if you focus on an all-AWS or all-Azure solution. 

I’m a best-of-breed advocate. The money saved and the risks avoided in selecting the optimal set of cloud technologies will likely save you millions a year. That does not mean that a homogeneous public cloud solution won’t work, just that it is typically not optimized and thus increases your costs in ways few enterprises account for

The question is whether you should trade away the benefits of having the optimal technology stack for your specific needs for the convenience benefits of a single provider. Don’t just guess before you decide.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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