Cloud vendors are fighting a huge battle these days over customers. Each company, especially those chasing market leader AWS, like to scream from the hill tops when they get a big customer win, but how seriously should we take these announcements, and are they as significant as these companies would have us believe?
Just this week, Microsoft announced a big partnership with Adobe that involved cross-marketing with Adobe's marketing cloud and Adobe moving some of its cloud infrastructure services to Microsoft's Azure cloud, possibly from AWS. On its face, it seems like a huge victory for Microsoft, not only scoring a big Azure customer, but also perhaps taking one away from its rival.
But if you look closer, it might not be as a big a win as it seems. First of all, Adobe has a bunch of its own data centers, and nothing I read suggested they were closing these down to move to Azure. Secondly, Adobe's relationship with AWS appears to be hosting its Media Server product line. This includes hosting the servers and running media on Amazon's S3 storage service.
Meanwhile, AWS told TechCrunch's Frederic Lardinois (where I also work) that AWS has "a significant, long-term relationship and agreement with Adobe that hasn’t changed." One source told me that the transition to Azure could take up to four years to pull off. Put all of this together and suddenly Microsoft's big win for Azure doesn't sound big at all.
I'm not trying to pick on Microsoft here because they are trying to get attention for their cloud business, just as you would expect them to, but it's worth remembering, that every win may not be at the expense of a competitor.
Big companies tend to have many vendors
One thing to keep in mind as you think about these deals, is that it's entirely likely that just because one cloud vendor wins a chunk of business, it doesn't mean it is the exclusive cloud infrastructure vendor for that organization from that point onward. It's usually not that simple inside of large organizations, where it's not unusual for multiple competing vendors to have a chunk of business, and this is especially true in the cloud infrastructure business.
I remember when I covered content management, you would sometimes find a half a dozen different vendors (or more) operating inside the same large company. This happens because sometimes departments make buying decisions, or companies make acquisitions and you can end up having multiple versions of the same type of software and hardware running inside the same company.
The same is true for cloud infrastructure vendors. So the next time you hear a cloud infrastructure company bragging about their latest customer conquest, you may want to take it with a grain of salt. Chances are, in spite of what the vendors might suggest, the customers are likely playing the different players off each other to get the best price-performance they can—just as you would expect.
Photo Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim on Flickr. Used under CC by 2.0 license.