Competition heats up for cloud rivals Amazon, Microsoft and Google | #reInvent


As the utilities and services offered by each major cloud provider grow in distinctiveness, some friendly (and not-so-friendly) rivalries are beginning to emerge between Amazon, Microsoft and Google, with usefulness to customers not necessarily being the deciding factor.

At Amazon’s AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas, NV, James Watters, SVP of products at Pivotal Software Inc., sat down with John Furrier (@furrier) and Stu Miniman (@stu), co-hosts of theCUBE (* disclosure below), from the SiliconANGLE Media team, to talk about cloud utilities, developer appeal and the resulting competition between three popular cloud providers.

Established positions

Early in the conversation, Watters made clear his thoughts on single-cloud viability, stating: “There’s a fundamental belief I have that multi-cloud is the future.” As he sees it, this is something that will be determined by business pragmatism and wariness of monolithic cloud models more than technological merits alone. “Certainly no enterprise in the future wants to go all-in on one cloud,” he said.

Watters also outlined some of the issues Pivotal had encountered in using AWS for its own cloud services (including being told to essentially “pound sand” in response to an inquiry about possible usage volume discounting), leading them to welcome a convincing counteroffer from Google.  Continuing from there, Watters described some of the improvements its open source cloud computing platform, Cloud Foundry, had allowed them to make. “Within Cloud Foundry, we can not only run on multiple clouds, but we’re ahead of the game [with a cloud-abstracting API],” he said.

Cloud watching

Watters also touched on how Pivotal’s experiences with a variety of cloud solutions had put them in a position of being able to advise its partners on the benefits of different cloud providers, along with the architecture utilities provided by each one. He highlighted the way in which Microsoft’s Azure provided new customers with complimentary cloud architecture services, “to help [them] really get going,” while Google Cloud offered “some of the best machine learning and at-scale compute experts in the world.”

With these and other strengths backing up those respective players, Watters stated that he “couldn’t imagine a world” in which Microsoft and Google weren’t significant challengers to Amazon in providing cloud services. “This is the real tension in the market … Microsoft really rightfully owns enterprises in a big way — a lot of their architecture has for two decades or more,” Watters stated. “And Google really was the number-one @Scale cloud provider, always. They just chose to never offer it to others. So that’s what makes this a really dynamic market.”

He also gave Amazon praise despite the recent friction between their companies. “I think it’s to Amazon’s credit that they’ve innovated in more event-driven models like Lambda,” he said. “We’re working in our world to bring function as a service to our platform,” and event-driven programming in the context of large systems would be an important component in achieving that goal, he furthered.

Open-source consumption

In Watters’ view, there were also some downsides to the work Amazon had done to establish AWS as such a prominent player in the cloud arena, particularly with its somewhat one-sided usage of open-source tech, and few contributions in return. As he put it, “The question is: How is Amazon going to behave as part of the community?”

In contrast, he felt that Pivotal was offering something that would appeal to those unhappy with Amazon’s style. “We’ve really set ourselves up to be the dark horse against the Amazon pieces of the market,” he said.

As the discussion came to a close, Watters teased out some information on future developments. “I think one of the cool things we’re doing … is we have that open-source library of APIs … we really have a bunch of multi-cloud but with best-of-cloud features that are coming.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of AWS re:Invent. (*Disclosure: AWS and other companies sponsor some AWS re:Invent segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither AWS nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo by SiliconANGLE