By Don Omondi, Alibaba Cloud MVP and Solutions Architect at Interdist Alliances
Cloud computing – almost every major technology vendor today has a cloud platform, is planning to, or as with the case of HP Helion, tried and failed to have one. With so many different platforms to choose from, its very easy for IT professionals not to differentiate them. In truth, a majority of the time you really don't need to. They all offer more or less the same computing power, RAM, storage among other commonly used services. On paper, each platform offers almost identical products, sometimes they have different names like elastic compute, virtual machine or compute engine, but it's just compute as a service. So, if cloud vendors offer similar products how do we differentiate them? By categorizing the platforms – I do so by classifying one as either native or acquired.
A native cloud vendor is a platform where the need, scale and innovation behind cloud products is inborn. Here, the company has an application or applications that need the flexibility, scale and security of the cloud. They spend a ton of human resources and capital in R&D to create the perfect products and then, very importantly, implement it on their own applications and learn from that experience. Only then do they offer them to the public for consumption. Here, you're most likely to get a very stable product with predictable performance and few API changes.
An acquired cloud vendor is a platform where the need for offering cloud products is necessitated from external factors such as having a new revenue channel. Here, the company spends a ton of human resources and capital in R&D to create products and then, very importantly, offer them to the public for consumption. Only then do they learn from that experience how the product truly behaves in mass use. Here, you'd see frequent changes to the product, especially in pricing, usage allowances and APIs. The worst case I've experienced this is with cloud vendors that skip the whole spending on human resources and R&D and just go out to acquire smaller cloud vendors and rebrand them as their own.
Examples of native cloud vendors are Alibaba Cloud and Amazon Web Services. These two run the top two largest e-commerce platforms in the world – in that order. The compute, storage, security and performance they offer is on the same platform they use to power these e-commerce mammoths. It's no surprise to also find them among the top cloud vendors as millions of customers trust them to keep their applications going.
As we navigate through these murky waters brought about by Covid-19, a lot of people are considering cloud as the best way to keep their businesses running. Perhaps it is worth considering which kind of cloud as well, especially since early signs are that acquired cloud platforms have already begun to struggle with capacity problems.
The views expressed herein are for reference only and don't necessarily represent the official views of Alibaba Cloud.
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