Ocado Mixes AWS & Google Cloud Because Retailers Fear Amazon Having Their Data

Online retailer Ocado uses a mix of AWS and GCP for its cloud needs so that retail customers of its own Smart Platform aren’t deterred by rival Amazon

Online retailer Ocado has to use Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP) as well as Amazon Web Services (AWS) because potential retail customers of its own platform are ‘fearful’ of Amazon handling their data.

That is according to Ocado’s head of data Daniel Nelson, who was speaking to TechWeekEurope at Google’s GCP Next conference in London.

Ocado’s Smart Platform currently has one customer – UK retailer Morrisons – but the firm is in talks with several companies about using the platform.

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Ocado cloud strategy

Ocado 2About three years ago, Ocado decided that its platform needed to rely on cloud computing in order to be viable in the long-term.

“We want to sell more of our software to people around the world, but we decided that if we had to provision hardware everytime we wanted a customer, and manage the capacity it was going to be a problem – so we started looking at two cloud providers: AWS and GCP,” Nelson explained.

So the company decided to run small microservices on AWS, and some hardware for some Hadoop work on Google.

“We kept cross-pollinating to see which one was more suitable for the various use cases we had and Google consistently came out as the better place to do our data work, and likewise we were comfortable with AWS for our operations systems.”

Contrasting Cloud Paths

But while another Google and AWS customer, Spotify, is moving all-in with Google’s cloud because it doesn’t believe it is worth maintaining a ‘best of breed’ cloud approach, Nelson said that Ocado “will definitely not” be moving to just one cloud provider.

And a huge part of the reason why, is because, as Nelson states, there are clients who have a particular reason not to use a particular provider.

“From my experience from talking at these sorts of events, I know some people – particularly retailers, will prefer not to use a stack of a competing retailer,” he said.

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Best of breed approach

ocado van delivery online shoppingAmazon’s success in the e-commerce space means that the types of clients Ocado is in talks with, are reluctant to use AWS for the data analytics side of things.

“They’d say they don’t want to use this service provider – and even though it perhaps should be a concern to them, it’s definitely not something we’d want to get in the way [of the retailer doing business with Ocado],” Nelson said.

“There are multiple retailers who I know that are fearful of competitors.”

There are examples of Amazon’s competitors using its platform; Netflix for example, has been very public in its journey to go all-in with AWS, but Nelson said that Ocado needed the flexibility to ensure it isn’t constrained.

Meanwhile, Nelson said that Google was making significant strides in becoming “more accessible” with GCP; by making BigQuery easier to use, and improved interoperability across a lot of Google’s features.

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