I mean, it’s the cloud. It was created to be customizable, scalable and flexible. But with that flexibility you reach a level of complexity that can be difficult to understand and prioritize.
You may be tempted to look at the many services offered by cloud providers – data storage, APIs, governance and more – and see them all as critically important. But they are not. In the cloud, not all services are equal.
Cloud providers offer services to optimize and ensure a friction-free experience in the cloud, but there is also a downside: These services vary across cloud providers. For example, BigQuery optimization is great for Google, but has no value for Amazon or Microsoft. Similarly, RedShift integration does not add value to Google or Microsoft. Some call this lock-in. We prefer to think of it as optimizing your partnerships in the cloud.
A trusted partner in the cloud
How can you begin to understand your opportunities in the cloud, know what you really need, and identify what you can postpone until later? Start by asking your software vendors. After all, so are many of us collaboration with cloud providers, and we have insight into what their priorities are and how our products work with different services.
Part of our job as software vendors is to understand what is changing in the cloud and why, giving us an opportunity to share what we learn with our common customers. You should take advantage of it. Especially if you work with multiple cloud providers and need to understand how they work together, you will find it beneficial to have a partner in this endeavor.
For example, Google and Amazon both use the S3 API for storage, but the standards between the two vendors are different. Although the API has the same name, the way the cloud provider stores and accesses data may be different. Unless you are partnered with someone else working with both vendors, it would be easy to overlook it.
Software providers can be an honest broker between cloud providers about the kind of technology we need to see them adopt and prioritize for all of our customers. So if there is a feature that more customers want, we can go for you.
As we collaborate more and more with all major cloud providers, we can share roadmaps and strategy for upcoming releases and help you prioritize critical integration points. What we learn from this process can also help you achieve strategic alignment with your cloud providers.
For example, a customer was interested in an authorization service from one of the cloud providers, but we had inside information that the service would soon retire and be replaced. We were able to help create a more long-term plan for what the customer wanted to accomplish.
If your software vendors do not support a particular API or cloud integration point, there is often a reason. If you ask, we can explain what we know about that feature and usually can offer a better alternative.
Where are your options in the cloud?
What is interesting to me as an independent observer is that I see a lot of innovation coming out of Google as they do not have older services in the cloud. Amazon, which has been in the cloud market longer, has more than 2,300 cloud services today. Google probably has a third of them. Because Google doesn’t maintain so many older services, it can innovate faster with future ideas. Microsoft is experiencing the most significant growth in the market, and we are experiencing its focus on broader cloud provider services.
But what services are you interested in? And why? Maybe you just need S3 storage as an API. Or you might be interested in hot, cold or medium storage mechanisms. Or do you require that all your data in the cloud resides with the models that run the data? Do you have applications running on Amazon and Microsoft Azure? Do you want Hadoop to get this data? You may need to extract data from Amazon and merge it with Microsoft data so that your models have a single view of the data.
We have partnered with clients on these – and many other – cloud strategies. Because we partner with cloud providers to build our cloud software, we are able to have conversations with them on your behalf. And sometimes, because we have invested in integration with cloud providers, we are able to get the latest and greatest innovations.
It is an exciting role for us to play in the cloud and we are eager to move yours with you. So don’t be afraid to ask our advice – we might all learn something.
About the author
Tom Fisher supports business development activities at SAS and helps the company manage an active set of alliance partners. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at MapR Technologies, focusing on customer agreements and the company’s overall product strategy. Fisher joined MapR from Oracle where he was Senior Executive in Engineering and Operations. Previously, he was Oracle’s Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Global Commercial Cloud Services for over five years. Prior to joining Oracle, Fisher served as CIO and Vice President of Cloud Computing at SuccessFactors, now SAP, responsible for global cloud operations and new product development.