The ongoing 2018 FIFA games being held in Russia have already given the world the first set of surprises – Germany losing to Mexico, Argentina and Brazil drawing their respective games to relative underdogs, and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi—five times voted the world’s best player— misses a penalty!! Unpredictability in the leader quadrant and the ability of the smaller players to rise to the occasion have made an early impact on the World Cup and similar trends have been seen in the ever-present Cloud War.
AWS’s capability to offer innovative, scalable and dynamic cloud infrastructure has made it the most successful provider in this space. My first impression from the AWS Analyst Summit in Mumbai was that of a giant with one of the most extensive partner networks. AWS is financially strong, has an evolving service portfolio and is working closely with Fortune 500 companies to co-innovate. While AWS is garnering a growing base of happy clients, they have been faced with perceptual challenges in client services, response time to issues and price has turned many of their loyal to its nearest competition, Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft is gaining ground quickly under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella and a “cloud first” initiative. They are building their own huge global cloud network and their reputation for delivering business-aligned productivity solutions (WW SMB spending on services like Office 365 are expected to grow at a CAGR of 25% to $40 Billion by 2022), is increasing their cloud user base. At a recent event, Microsoft took pride in taking us through their “Garage” in Hyderabad, which is their hub for open innovation. While competing with AWS, Azure continues to enjoy a reputation for superior service quality, a robust productivity suite, a stronger-by-the-day partner network, and a solid cash flow. However, they seem to be battling a perception war on innovation. A stronger PR initiative and thought leadership is the key to overcoming these obstacles.
Internet giant Google has been busy expanding its public cloud services under the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Google’s initial reluctance to commit adequate resources to the cloud compounded its struggle to rival competitors. A transformation was needed and boy what a transformation it has been. What I noticed at the 2018 GCP Summit in Mumbai, was an increased investment by GCP in data-centers, robust global networks and an increased focus on security. However, GCP must strive harder to sharpen its B2B strategies and build a robust partner network/strategy, targeting MSPs, CPs, SIs and ISVs, to compete with Azure and AWS in India and the ASEAN region.
For quite some time, IBM roundtables and strategy summits have been focused on Watson, intelligent cloud, servers, and systems. However, IBM’s substantial existence in all aspects of the IT services space limits its appeal to other players seeking cloud partnerships. Moreover, when separating cloud on its own merit, their vision is somewhat misty, which continues to cast a doubt whether the firm is really a true contender in the cloud war.
While AWS can be compared to the “German Football team” – a well-oiled, ruthless, fighting machine which will steamroll anything it’s path; GCP is the quite come from behind team. GCP is more relaxed, confident, intelligent and a competent giant which is preparing itself to face the storm. What stood out to me at these summits, was Microsoft and its legacy of strong delivery capabilities, which is more like the erstwhile “Brazil Football team” possessing demeanor plus aggression and super skills up-its sleeves.
According to AMI-Partner, globally, about 22 million firms are planning to allot more of their IT budgets for hosted/cloud solutions as opposed to on-premise IT products and services. The war is not yet over, but for the time being, AWS and Microsoft are the two front runners in a heat to the top spot. And when you are considering the cloud wars in the APAC region, watch out for my review on Alibaba Cloud!! This company will surely be a force to be reckoned with.
~Kishalay Choudhury, Director