We have a number of services that are hosted with cloud providers – from this site’s hosting to our virtual event platform and others, it’s interesting to see cloud evolve and provide some killer support for deploying cool solutions.
One of the things that we’ve been seeing more and more though is a “yeah, us too!” type of approach to providing services. It’s a strange thought, really, where all of the core platform things (database, hosting, VMs, automation, pay as you go, video services, etc.) are all sort of assumed. The differentiation seems to be coming from administration of the tools and the fringe cases.
We’ve actually been hearing from major providers that they “have the same things as those other guys, with similar pricing…” That’s on a sales call, trying to talk through switching.
This strikes me as both odd, and an indicator of just how far these cloud platforms have evolved. When they all provide for whatever type of database type services you need, or for whatever automation or serverless capabilities you need, it’s a more challenging and more “lock-in” oriented situation potentially. If all you’re selecting on is fringe support for very unique requirements, it’s likely once you select a vendor you’ll be more apt to be locked in. You’ll have made the choices and done the work to cut-over and will be very hesitant to re-do that work.
I’ve always seen the various providers as distinctive in their presentation and management layer. I believe that’s still the case, with entirely different approaches to management coming from AWS, Azure, and Google. To me, Azure is a truly managed experience.
You see this from selecting database options and scaling and managing your instances and capacity on so many levels. You see it on how you manage things (if something is missing, it tends to tell you and help you make it right), and you see it in the UI. It works to provide a lot of finesse and polish.
With AWS, it’s more of “get to where you want to work on the thing, then poke around from there” – so setting up settings, capacity, etc. is more of a know what you’re doing and do it well! type of exercise. It’s fully capable (and we rely on this quite extensively) but it’s a different management experience.
I think this is where a lot of the differentiation comes in the commodity market that is our cloud space now. You can get your SQL Server options and such at most/all of the providers. You can get things like scaling, dynamic capacity and that type of thing in many ways.
Be mindful though of the management of these resources. Be aware of how it’s managed, how unique that management is to their resources (leads to lock-in) and what that means for your staff and their learning curves.
While the resources and capabilities may be getting much more commoditized, the execution of these have some clear decision points – none better/worse than others necessarily, but they do have impact on your systems, people and your ability to deliver and support your systems.