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Cloud Computing Design Concept - Digital Connections, Technology Background with Earth Globe and Geometric Network Mesh

The Big Three Cloud Providers

Everyone knows who the “big three” are when it comes to cloud providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). While it’s true that perhaps some others (IBM Cloud, Oracle, DigitalOcean, Vultr, etc.) may at least deserve an honorable mention, the trio at the top owns an incredible two-thirds of the entire cloud market. They’re everywhere, and if your small or medium business is considering a cloud migration, there’s a good chance you’re heading into it with the idea that you have to use one of the behemoths. After all, the big guys literally offer hundreds and hundreds of specialized and differentiated services, so they must be the best choice… right?

As it turns out, a little bit less can often end up meaning a lot more for your small or medium sized business- and that specialization is at the heart of the issue. Each of the hyperscale clouds do things a bit differently, with specific technologies native to their particular clouds, and the dirty little secret is that they do so by design. Take serverless computing, for example. If you’re using AWS for your serverless computing needs then you are working with Lambda or Fargate. But what happens if GCP comes calling and shows you that they can reduce your monthly spend on serverless? That’s a no-brainer then, right? Let’s migrate everything over today! Hooray for saving money!

Not so fast. While it may be true that your serverless computing workloads will be cheaper with Google Cloud Run, migrating over to GCP will take a ton of time, money, and expertise specific to the two cloud services that you are moving between. Today’s cloud applications are often complex, and there is nothing neat and tidy about moving complex cloud applications. They will absolutely not be easily transported, creating significant friction with vendor lock-in and a limiting of future options as a byproduct. And all of this is to say nothing of the additional risks of ever losing the highly specialized personnel that runs your existing AWS serverless workloads. Those experts don’t grow on trees and could become a nightmare to replace.

All things considered, there’s an excellent chance that your business is better suited to a smaller cloud provider that focuses on a more limited menu and just knocks that list of services out of the park- often for significantly less money. Of course, all of this is easy for me to say as I’m employed at one of those smaller providers (ServerCloud), but stay with me a moment longer and see if you don’t find yourself nodding your head in agreement.

What does your business truly need?

More often than not, you’re really just looking to run your applications in the cloud and have the ability to scale when necessary. This means that you’re looking for cloud compute, storage, and networking functionality at the top of your list. Perhaps a Kubernetes and containers capability or some GPUs as well. You don’t actually need all of the bells and whistles that the big guys will try to sell you on, and even if some of those do offer additional value in certain circumstances, they can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth with the aforementioned lock-in and personnel dilemmas. There certainly may be instances where highly complex and specialized workloads become necessary down the road, but that is what an intelligent multi-cloud strategy is for.

What’s more, the smaller and more regional cloud providers frequently pair their offerings with the kind of personalized and dedicated customer service that just isn’t possible with an enormous customer base. On top of all that, with a smaller cloud provider your existing personnel group is already able to navigate the LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Python) and be highly efficient on day one.

As the saying goes, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”, and that may never be more true than when deciding which cloud provider is right for your business.

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