I feel sorry for cloud buyers in 2019. Whether at AWS re:Invent last Fall or just on the Internet searching for answers and solutions on the cloud, the amount of noise in the market is incredibly high right now. Filtering that noise down to meaningful signal is nearly impossible, a challenge made harder as many cloud buyers are still fuzzy about their enterprise cloud strategies.
One thing I can’t stand is the noise, noise, noise, noise! - Grinch
The reasons for the issue of noise is multifaceted. On the one hand, the cloud service providers (CSPs) — AWS, Microsoft, and Google — are redefining the cloud every month with new managed services. AWS crossed one thousand managed services in 2018. And the cloud providers are pushing the market to adopt these managed services, driving the conversation. In many respects, the power of the cloud lies in the ability to offload the running (setup and maintenance) of software by enterprises to dedicated CSPs. CSPs run software for customers as managed services.
On the other hand, there’s a gold rush to develop offerings on top of CSPs. Everybody from Capital One to Deloitte to countless startups were at AWS re:Invent in December with products and services on top of your cloud accounts. You can buy everything from a team to set up and manage your entire cloud account to a single pane of glass into the cost of your cloud workloads to a widget to automate simple, repetitive tasks on the cloud. It’s overwhelming.
The job-to-be-done (JTBD) for cloud buyers is dependent on the maturity of the organization in developing and executing a cloud strategy. Ultimately, the JTBD of the organization to which the individual cloud buyer works is to get onto the cloud. In getting an organization onto the cloud, they realize the benefits of offloading the management of infrastructure, convert the bulk of IT spend from capital expenditures (Capex) to operating expenditures (Opex), and, ideally, improve or at least maintain consistent security and privacy posture. The last point is increasingly important as organizations need to avoid exposing themselves to the increased risk associated with data breach or loss by moving to the cloud.
The CSP is the platform. It’s a platform with literally thousands upon thousands of configuration and architecture choices in the form of mixing and matching various managed services. Couple that with the myriad of third-party products and services in and around the CSPs and the options grow even more.
Sadly, for the cloud buyer and the enterprise that just wants to get onto the cloud, 2019 will only see more optionality, point solutions, and ultimately noise. While the end state of the cloud as a large part of the IT infrastructure for every organization in the world is firmly established, the path to get to that end state is going to be full of fits and starts as entities try to filter the noise of the cloud into something that delivers value.
At this stage and in this light, the CSPs are ultimately the only clear winners, and they are going to be very, very big winners when the cloud eventually tips. The distribution of winnings is still TBD, but AWS has continued to be the dominant player.
That leaves a few thousand other cloud solutions providers competing to solve specific challenges on the cloud, trying to differentiate themselves in an extremely crowded market. The market is large, and the winners are still being determined so we will continue to see massive investments both in new ventures as well as in spinouts of large enterprises.