Cloud as a concept and then as a reality swept through businesses over the past ten years, and most companies moved a lot of their applications to public cloud platforms. AWS, Google Cloud Platform, and Microsoft’s Azure (the hyperscale service providers) are now powerful influencers in business today. They turned IT into a commodity and then put an as-a-service layer on it, thus influencing business thinking as well as IT. But companies are now competing in a different way.
Over the past ten years, companies moved to cloud-based operating models on which they compete. They now go to market using these capabilities. They modernized their organizations and went through operating model changes to allow them to compete with agility and effectiveness.
But today, companies grapple with issues of how to use cloud technologies to change what they attempt to do. The cloud debate is moving from the generic hyperscale issues around how cheaply companies can scale and manage infrastructure and data with reliable and effective tools. Instead, the issue is how to add additional capabilities so companies can compete better within their industry. In effect, we are moving from how to leverage standard tools and platforms to how to use these standard tools to create unique and powerful platforms on which we can operate at scale.
Effectively, we moved from “How can we become the same as everybody else?” to “How can we deploy that today in a unique, special way that fits our agenda in our industry, resolving our specific problems?”
It is an inverse effect. We went from taking everything that is bespoke and turning it to generic to now taking the generic and making it bespoke.
The challenge is that the hyperscale cloud providers make money by renting their standard platforms at scale. They are interested in taking a company’s problems and applying standard tools and standard capabilities to them. Their platforms are commoditized and provide tools that operate at scale. They drove down standards and scale, which makes it difficult to mass customize.
Therefore, in many subtle ways, they resist their clients’ efforts to create and sustain customized technology on their platforms. Instead, they constantly undercut these efforts through stranding APIs and other methods to favor their own standard technologies.
The whole cloud narrative for years has been one of scale. The hyperscalers developed marvelous cloud platforms and technologies that are very flexible and can scale. And that scale is necessary.