How AWS will own you through serverless computing

Billions of dollars invested in servers and software for serverless computing have given AWS 70 percent of the market—and the platform on which enterprise applications run

If you could spend $1 to make $10, you’d do it, right? By the same token, if you could spend $9 billion to make $90 billion, you’d do that, too, right? With hundreds of billions at stake in cloud computing, and winner-takes-most economics in play, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and Google spent $35 billion last year—and roughly $10 billion in the first quarter of 2018—to earn the right to take home multiples of that later. “The cloud isn’t cheap,” rightly reasons Geekwire’s Tom Krazit.

Failure in cloud, however, is much more expensive. Given the rise of serverless computing, it’s getting ever more costly, with some signs that AWS could turn its early lead into long-term dominance.

What all that cloud infrastructure money buys

As cloud pundit Bernard Golden highlights, the copious quantities of cash that AWS, Microsoft, and Google are plowing into datacenters reflects the magnitude of the payoff for winning: “This investment pattern reflects the realities of the cloud computing market: It’s a platform-based industry with enormous network effects that requires sufficient capacity to support exploding, spiky demand—much of which can emanate from geographies that require local infrastructure. That’s a recipe for needing to plow huge amounts of money into the business.”

We’re not talking about a few billion dollars up for grabs. We’re talking about hundreds of billions in play, as the future of enterprise computing gets defined today.

For those that remember how the search wars were won (and lost), capital expense (capex) was a big component. Google not only had the best algorithms, it also invested the most to ensure it had adequate capacity, as Expedia engineering executive Subbu Allamaraju stresses. Going cheap on capex turns out to be really expensive.

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