Long the prerogative of some players with anti-competitive practices, the cloud is evolving to meet the expectations of its professional users in terms of freedom of choice.
In 2021, the cloud will be a global market worth 370 billion euros, and is expected to experience significant growth in 2030. As the cloud offer ages, it is constantly becoming commodified, distributed and regionalized. However, until now, the cloud has been built on a lie, that a small number of cloud solution providers are able to meet the needs of all customers.
To break this myth, we need to go back to the major changes that have taken place in recent years. The adoption of the smartphone heralded the era of digital ubiquity. Now accessible by more than 80% of the world’s population, the smartphone represents more than 10 billion mobile connections, including for the IoT (Internet of things).
Now, end users are requesting access to all, immediately, on demand, or even simultaneously user segments. Their expectations only change over time, from text files to high definition videos.
The change in demand has continued on the supply side, moving digital from an expensive, private, on-premise model to affordable, rental and as-a-service.
The rising cloud
This new model has enabled the growth of e-commerce, research and collaboration to be available anytime, anywhere, to anyone with a mobile phone or computer.
It makes sense, then, that the biggest players in these three industries helped create the first generation of cloud services, through massive investments in physical infrastructure for their own use cases. Then, they invested in developing software to make their solutions modular and accessible, in a very resilient way, across all types of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers. This new form of cloud infrastructure is now known as public cloud and covers Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS).
Now, customers are realizing that the cloud has benefits from a scaling perspective. However, they are more selective in their expectations, asking for answers to certain issues of security, data regionalization, cost, technological lock-in, geopolitics, etc. Suppliers are therefore forced to consider new considerations related to risk management.
The time drifts
At the same time, the technology has aged to the point that it is no longer the prerogative of some suppliers. This minority of gamers has long carved out the lion’s share, amassing hundreds of billions of dollars, and its growth has sparked suspicions by more than one antitrust lawmaker. Customers now want to know the underlying technology used for their solution, the licensee and the intellectual property. They want to know if some states can revoke the license. They need proof that they can trust a particular service. Regarding data, they are interested in their security, in the identity of the owner, of the individuals who have access to it, in what circumstances and within the framework of which laws. Finally, they question the continuity of the entire operation, beyond marketing, green-washing and superficial indicators, which often only cover greenhouse gas emissions.
Worse, there are strategies to attract customers (such as cloud credits, which are associated with dumping), simply to lock them in with disincentives such as exit fees (transfer fees, or products without a clear data reversibility plan).
Freedom of choice, the promise of multi-cloud
The complexity of the current situation highlights two key concepts: multi-cloud and option.
In fact, cloud commodification means that 20% of the products offered by different vendors are enough to meet 80% of customer needs. The latter is therefore no longer condemned to rely on a single supplier. Conversely, by combining several, they can match their needs in terms of location, availability, costs, maintenance and alignment of values.
Unlike the last ten years, when every decision is irrevocable and very costly, this new arbitration carries the possibility of making choices in a dynamic and changeable way. It is possible to use a hybrid cloud (combination of public, private and on-premise cloud), use the solutions of several suppliers identically or sequentially, or even change suppliers continuously, without loss of finance or data .
In other words, true freedom of choice.