IN DEPTH: Ocado, Spotify and eve are all using a mix of cloud services – but is it feasible to use a best of breed approach in the long-term?
Three of the biggest technology companies are vying for end users to use their public cloud platforms.
Microsoft has Azure, Amazon has AWS and Google has its GCP – but inevitably, each of these platforms has its pros and cons, and because of this, organisations want to use the best bits of each cloud service.
As Shiva Kumar, CIO an online mattress retailer eve states, the cloud strategy is dependent on the type of organisation, and the length of time they have to get the results they want.
Pros and cons
“The very short-term strategy is to subscribe to cloud services as you need them, while the medium term is about extracting as much out of a cloud platform as possible and sticking to a single set of cloud services, and in the long-term you would want to consolidate your cloud services,” he explains.
The medium term would therefore mean sticking to using just three cloud providers, perhaps, rather than looking for a fourth, and the long-term strategy would mean switching to one or two key providers.
“For example, if Google is being used for Gmail and Google Docs, then perhaps we could leverage Office 365 for that and move those eggs into that basket, but you would have to consider what long-term savings you could make versus how much flexibility you may lose,” Kumar states.
The short-term strategy is being taken on by eve; the firm uses web hosting from AWS, e-mail and documents from Google and ERP and file storage on Azure.
On the flip side, Spotify has a long-term strategy of consolidating its cloud services to one provider. The music streaming firm had its testing and development with Amazon Web Services, but is looking to go all-in with Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP) in the next few years.
Spotify’s vice president of engineering and infrastructure, Nicholas Harteau, says that there were only two choices when it came to cloud platforms that could handle the scale and capabilities that Spotify required – effectively ruling out Microsoft’s Azure.
Spotify decided to pick Google because its platform better aligned with the music streaming company’s own strategy.
“It just so happens that the strengths that Google has are [more] important for Spotify… Google’s data platform is actually a few steps ahead of Amazon’s, and part of our bet [to go with GCP] is that I expect it to stay a few steps ahead,” he says.
“For us the move to the cloud is about focusing our most valuable and scare resources; it’s about doing fewer things. So trying to manage two different cloud vendors or trying to do a great job of understanding how you can scale Spotify in two different environments – that’s not attractive to us,” he says.
Spotify would prefer its employees to be focused on figuring out how to accomplish certain things once so it can free up their time to do other things, but Harteau admits, he can’t predict the future and wouldn’t rule out using another cloud vendor if they have a feature which is “too attractive to pass up”.
But while Spotify has a long-term strategy which involves consolidation, as Kumar suggested would be the case, there can be reasons why companies opt to have more than one cloud provider.