But almost everything enterprise developers create themselves -- apps to engage customers and partners, even software that embodies the core intellectual property of a business -- will ultimately live on IaaS/PaaS clouds that enable enterprise developers to build, test, deploy, and scale better applications faster.
AWS's huge first-mover advantage may sustain its lead position, but it won't wipe out the competition, if only because enterprises can't tolerate business dependency on a single cloud giant. The talk I hear from enterprise IT management is about "spreading bets" across multiple clouds.
All of Amazon's nearest rivals have their strengths: Microsoft Azure not only caters to the .Net and Windows Server world, it's keeping up with the latest cloud technology, including hot open source plays like Docker, CoreOS, and Kubernetes. Google has the longest experience managing huge server and container infrastructure at scale and has integrated Compute Engine and App Engine into an IaaS/PaaS whole. IBM, with its latest cloud announcements, offers a Cloud Foundry PaaS on top of SoftLayer with a rich set of services for building analytics and machine learning applications.
Tools to manage deployments across multiple clouds emerged a while ago and are gaining more traction. At re:Invent, I met with CliQr, a multicloud management startup backed by Google Ventures that can dynamically determine which clouds should run which workloads. But a number of others, notably RightScale, enable you to manage and optimize resources and costs across clouds.
For me, the most exciting part of all of this is what happens when an enterprise goes 100 percent cloud. A session on Netflix's embrace of microservices architecture, presided over by senior engineering leader Sudhir Tonse, was a master class on how everything changes when you develop only cloud-native applications. Netflix's ability to iterate and string together new apps from a multitude of single-purpose cloud services has already become the stuff of legend.
Could Netflix have achieved this on another cloud? No, because none of the others were mature enough when the company began reinventing its architecture four years ago. The rivals are catching up in capability, but they'd better pull out the stops or risk falling further behind.
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