As Washington, London and other world capitals debate and revisit classical global trade thinking, a remarkable change has been happening in the technology world. SaaS, PaaS and IaaS competencies are becoming increasingly pronounced and vendors are recognizing the sheer scale and competitive advantage that specialization is bringing.
I have been projecting for a decade we would start to see such specialization and it is now starting to accelerate, even as politicians throw regional roadblocks using privacy and data storage and retention requirements.
Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri appeared today at Amazon's re:Invent event to announce Workday has selected AWS as its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider for customer production workloads. As it navigates complex regulatory requirements across countries, the first set of customers to enjoy this choice will be in Canada next year.
It follows the path of Infor which committed to AWS a few years ago (CEO Charles Phillips famously said “Friends don’t let friends build data centers”), and Unit4 and IFS which leverage Microsoft’s Azure cloud. That frees up SaaS vendors to invest more in application feature/functions – their areas of comparative advantage.
Oracle, IBM, Google and others are similarly gearing up to be IaaS vendors in their own right. It is a game of capex at scale of in billions of dollars a year.
Just as interesting is the PaaS game. Oracle and Microsoft enjoy massive historical developer support but as interest moves to Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and Virtual Reality, Amazon with services like Lex and Polly, Salesforce with Edison, GE with Predix and many other players are looking to build platform ecosystems. Indeed Amazon today pointedly praised a bunch of “disrupters” (in slide below) which are changing many industries, as it seeks to become their provider of choice.
It’s a tale of two cities for a vendor CTO – growing number of platform and infrastructure choices to decide from, tempered by growing nationalism and politicians who want to narrow their choices.