January 31, 2019

2019 Predictions: CSP Vertical Integration Marches On

Travis Good, MD

Co-founder, CEO & Chief Privacy Officer

The inevitable march to the cloud continues and accelerates in 2019. The cloud is now being operationalized for enterprises. By that I mean, enterprises are now putting operational cloud roadmaps into effect instead of just strategic initiatives related to the cloud. Both net new and legacy applications are on that cloud roadmap, though larger enterprises will take years to fully implement the roadmap. We will be living in a hybrid world for the next five to ten years but ultimately enterprise IT will be run on the cloud, with the bulk of that being public cloud.

Your margin is my opportunity. - Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO

As the march to the cloud continues, the constraint on timing is not technical. That foundation of the cloud is largely built already and the winners are clear, 1) Amazon (AWS), 2) Microsoft (Azure), and 3) Google (GCP), though the distribution of cloud revenue is still a fierce battle between those 3 behemoths. With the foundation built, we enter the post-cloud world.

CSPs will go from IT infrastructure to IT everything

What does that world look like? It is a paradigm shift in the outsourcing of enterprise IT to a third party. The cloud foundation built by the major cloud service providers (CSPs) Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, will be the literal glue that runs enterprise IT of the future. This is both exciting and scary. It’s exciting because enterprises will have more resources and attention to focus on their core business, be that retail, healthcare, finance, education, or any other type. It’s scary because it’s an immense amount of power and leverage that enterprises are giving up to CSPs.

In 2019, we will start to appreciate how the CSPs will leverage their foundational role in enterprise IT to reach their tentacles vertically up the stack of IT. Similarly to how Microsoft in the 1990s leveraged Windows as the foundation to scale vertical applications within enterprises, CSPs will be doing the same thing in the 2020s. Just how far up the technology stack CSPs go is an open question. And just how much CSPs can leverage their power is going to be an Antitrust Law question.

An illustrative example is an AWS acquisition from January 2019. AWS acquired a disaster recovery and cloud migration company called CloudEndure for $200M CloudEndure is a SaaS product and a part of the AWS Marketplace. Disaster recovery and migration are value-added services on top of the cloud but they are SaaS products, not infrastructure (IaaS) or platform (PaaS).

The expansion into SaaS is not necessarily new to AWS but I think it is interesting to think about how far the CSPs will go in offering software solutions on top of their clouds. AWS already has a conference/video calling solution, why not a productivity suite like Office or GSuite or a CRM like Salesforce? If we take an analogy from Amazon the retail giant, it is that Amazon can easily go from the IT infrastructure store (the cloud) to the IT everything store.

Microsoft and Google will similarly follow suit. Both already have applications that are popular in enterprises. Microsoft has aligned its cloud products around Office (productivity), Dynamics (CRM), and Azure (cloud). It is only a matter of time before AWS does the same thing. Google, playing catchup to both AWS and Microsoft, will be interesting to watch as it still needs to rapidly gain adoption for its foundation.

And, increasingly, enterprises will see the benefits of the reduced friction of working with one of the major CSPs while running across multiple CSPs. As CSPs aggregate more and more of the customers, their leverage will grow. It is a virtuous cycle that we are just starting to see in 2019.

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