The cloud portfolio effect

We tend to talk about specific cloud vendor products, usually when there is something new and exciting to discuss. Appealing to developers is the first step.

It starts with hearing about the amazing new technology Google Cloud has just productised, the newest release of an open source framework or a compelling new AWS product you can replace an existing legacy system with.

But the longer term objective is to bring in your entire workload.

How many products do the cloud vendors have?

As of mid-August 2017, there are over 164 individual products across 41 categories from the main 3 cloud providers. These are just how the vendor names their portfolio on their website and each product has many sub-features which might be considered products by themselves:

  • AWS has 18 product categories with a total of 100 named products within them.
  • Azure has 14 product categories with a total of 100 named products within them.
  • GCP has 9 product categories with a total of 64 named products within them.

(There are no other cloud providers that matter, hence the focus on AWS, Azure and GCP)

Driving adoption – land and expand

In some organisations, there is a high level directive to migrate to the cloud but most cloud adoption comes from individual developers picking a particular cloud service they want to use.

Services are chosen either because they make achieving a particular outcome easier, and/or because an engineer wants an excuse to try out a “cool” technology.

Most products can be used in isolation, but once you start using one vendor then the next time you have a problem to solve the default choice is to look at the options from within the ecosystem you’re already inside.

Staying within the family has benefits ranging from better network latency and lower (or free) data transfer fees to easy access to existing data stores and the simplicity of a single bill.

This is a classic land and expand strategy. The individual products must attract developers with a compelling use case and be entirely usable by themselves. However, when combined with other cloud products from the same vendor, the benefits all add up.

What does this mean for cloud marketing?

  • Appealing to developers is crucial. Good quality documentation, friendly APIs, easy authentication and multi-platform SDKs all promote adoption.
  • Technical credibility is important. Sharing information at conferences, giving talks and publishing blog posts all helps to show off the cool technology behind the scenes. It gets people talking.
  • Developer advocacy teams travelling the world, attending meetups, giving live demos and engaging directly with engineers.

The end goal – 100% cloud

At Server Density, this started with our use of Google Cloud Bigtable but we are almost done with a complete migration from Softlayer to Google Cloud. We want full access to the portfolio of Container Engine, BigQuery, Compute Engine, Cloud ML…all connected to our Bigtable instances.

The big 3 cloud vendors want to draw you in with a single product that is just what you’re looking for, lowering the barrier to adopting the rest of their portfolio over time. It starts with just a single product solving a very specific use case, but the goal is for all IT spend to move to the cloud. It’s the enterprise-wide purchase agreement all over again.