Why Amazon's current cloud domination helps us all
Amazon's cloud dominance has been driven by user needs and a lack of dynamism from legacy vendors.
Recently, I've noticed a meme spreading through Silicon Valley that questions whether Amazon Web Services' (AWS) current dominant position will hinder the cloud. The short answer: not at all.
I was in a venture capital meeting last week where we were told by one prominent VC that, "Two years ago Amazon was a blessing to startups. Today it is neutral. In two years it may well be a curse." How so? By building up Amazon Web Services to include many services currently offered by other vendors.
And while Amazon does continue to roll out new services, it's doing so in a way that makes life better for users of AWS with a focus on providing more infrastructure-oriented services. This is in large part due to the fact that Amazon itself is an AWS user and needs to address it's own needs.
AWS users benefit from Amazon's aggressive developments and startups that want to augment the AWS services have green field opportunities to target a multitude of areas that are may or may not be in AWS eye. And really, there are a ton of ideas and areas for startups to focus on, not the least of which is the cross-section of AWS and traditional enterprise data centers.
While there is no doubt that AWS has a stronghold on public cloud infrastructure, the company continues to improve its core offerings in ways that encourage developer ecosystem to be built up around it.
And this is where the rubber meets the road--developers have made AWS their default deployment option for cloud developers for a number of reasons--APIs that offer simple setup and deployment, access to AMIs that have the stacks they want to use and customize, and a simple to understand resource model.
None of this suggests that AWS is the right answer for every company, or every application. There are endless ways to design and deploy infrastructure that takes advantage of cloud principles.
As such, there is a huge amount of room for innovation around "cloud" as a whole--storage, network, management--very few existing tools measure up when it comes to the new architecture and programmatic interfaces that we get from cloud in general. And because cloud has introduced so many new variables (API management, governance, metering, multi-channel transactions) a new wave of startups such as Enstratus, Cloudscaling, Boundary and my own company Nodeable have been created to address these and other challenges.
But what about competition for infrastructure and platform-as-a-service?
Admittedly, right now the offerings from Microsoft (Azure) and VMware (Cloudfoundry) along with Rackspace (Rackspace Cloud) don't have much in the way of market share versus AWS. But I fail to see this as a problem.
One of the main underlying important factors of cloud computing is that the fundamental models of development, deployment and production have shifted. The incumbent vendors will either figure out how to play along or be left behind.
In my eyes, it's in the hands of startups to figure out how to disrupt the big guys so we too can become legacy stalwarts that startups want to target. This is what drives entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley as an innovation engine rather than one of living in fear of dominant players.