These mega providers attract organisations because they represent a safe pair of hands, and so become the default choice for many companies looking to embrace cloud computing. There is a perception that it is easier to migrate workloads to a large vendor and that they’re more reliable. However, even the mega providers can’t guarantee an uninterrupted service, with Amazon suffering a significant outage as recently as February this year. Every company has different motivations behind a move to cloud, and there is no one size fits all strategy – so is bigger always better?
Big opportunities for small cloud providers
Behind the big four sits a second tier of cloud providers; these include companies such as Rackspace, Alibaba and Oracle. There are also a large number of niche cloud providers that target growth by focusing on very specific regions or industries, such as manufacturing or banking, to differentiate themselves from the competition. Smaller vendors have an opportunity to challenge mega providers by providing better, more personal levels of support to organisations. Many businesses lack sufficient in-house skills to optimise and manage their cloud environment, so this is crucial. Smaller cloud vendors also have the advantage of being able to offer bespoke services. This is especially valuable for those companies that have very specific business objectives or may need cloud only for distinct workloads, and are worried they’ll have to make compromises on flexibility and control.
Putting a price on cloud
Whatever the size of the vendor, organisations must understand the true cost of cloud before making a final decision. This can be a major challenge for CIOs, especially becuase only 64% of cloud providers publish their prices online, according to 451 Research. While cloud services are often marketed as simple and consumable, the reality is that understanding the many costs and models of cloud can be tortuous. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that CIOs opt for the ease of a mega provider – rather than looking for hard to find prices, even though a smaller provider might represent better value for money.
To avoid this danger, CIOs must consider what they are looking to gain from cloud, and how different cloud services and vendors could benefit their organisation. Once the organisational goals have been identified, the next step is to evaluate whether the applications they seek to run in the cloud can be re-architected, or if the procurement of a new SaaS product is required. It is only after this assessment is made, that businesses should start looking at individual cloud providers to make an informed decision on what is best for the business, rather than judging purely on size.
Retaining control of cloud is key
Every company is unique; CIOs must evaluate if the cloud service they sign up to fits the needs of their business, as well as their budget. Whether they choose a mega provider, or one of their smaller competitors, it is crucial that they retain control over their cloud environment. Without the ability to manage and optimise their cloud environment, costs can quickly spiral out of control and nullify any savings the company sought to gain. Ultimately, bigger is not always better when it comes to cloud.
Maarten van Montfoort,
Vice President Northwest Europe at COMPAREX