Will Spotify be to Google Cloud as Netflix is to AWS?

Almost exactly a year ago, we heard that Spotify was working on a huge migration over to Google Cloud. They got off to a great start with a series of blog posts about their use of Google Cloud Pub/Sub, which I used to calculate what they might be paying if they were being billed at list price.

I had hoped Spotify would blog more about their migration but we have heard about some other big converts to Google Cloud, Evernote being a good example with a detailed technical writeup of their move. And of course we always knew Snapchat was running on Google, but recently saw their actual spend. No doubt there will be some interesting case studies announced at GCP Next in San Francisco next week.

That said, Spotify have not been entirely silent. Indeed, they have announced a few interesting tools which indicate they’re beginning to build up a suite of projects to help augment Google Cloud. This started with a writeup of how they built a custom system to manage compute instances, but no code was released publicly. Then last month, 2 new open source projects were announced around security and compliance.

Netflix is perhaps the best example of being a leader in developing tools for AWS. They are famous for running almost their entire business on AWS (except for CDN) and have had a strong set of open source projects for many years. By building internal tools needed to run their systems on AWS, then releasing them, they make it much easier for other businesses to adopt AWS. Netflix is showing how to properly design cloud architecture and releasing tools so others can follow their example.

This is a huge competitive advantage for AWS because if you have to pick between platforms, the one with the biggest ecosystem, most shared knowledge and largest pool of experienced engineers is often going to win. Google was very late to the game and whilst it has a strong developer community in aggregate, the Google Cloud specific ecosystem is very small.

Kubernetes is a great example of Google leading open development efforts with an underlying strategy of getting people onto Google Cloud. Kubernetes is open source but the managed service is Google Container Engine, which is the best place to run your Kubernetes clusters. Google certainly has the resources to jump start an ecosystem, but there’s more credibility when you have a big customer leading instead.

With Spotify releasing its first 2 open source projects, I wonder if they will become the Netflix of Google Cloud. This title is open right now. Perhaps it’ll be Evernote. Or maybe Snapchat, after all they have been using GCP for longer.