At the start of AWS re:Invent in December, Andy Jassy gave a marathon three-hour keynote speech covering many product announcements – you can watch the whole presentation if you like. One of the things I found most interesting, however, was what Jassy did not talk about – namely multi-cloud. At the end of his keynote, he discussed new AWS on-premises solutions that can also work in the cloud, but the word “multi-cloud” was never to be heard.
That said, there was a softening of AWS’s avoidance of multi-cloud. Jassy introduced two new services, Amazon ECS Anywhere and Amazon EKS Anywhere, two new versions of AWS’s managed containers and managed Kubernetes services that are designed for customer data centers that can work on any infrastructure. That means these two services can be used to manage applications running on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. So while there wasn’t an overt promotion of services for AWS customers that use multiple clouds, the move marks a clear shift in direction.
Amazon’s first Leadership Principle is customer obsession, making very clear that what they do is always driven by customers. It won’t escape their attention that customers today are actively seeking cloud solutions that are vendor-neutral and that they are increasingly wary of vendor lock-in. These companies want a multi-cloud architecture that can maximize the value from their data, regardless of where it is created, stored or processed.
For example, they are considering if it’s better to adopt an architecture with one cloud provider as the central point of control, or whether a distributed approach to using multiple clouds can be taken without adding complexity. Enterprises are also considering what is lost by choosing to go multi-cloud without explicit support from other cloud vendors.
A large percentage of Microsoft and Google’s cloud customers already have a relationship with AWS and see multi-cloud as a way to benefit from innovation and competition among cloud vendors. All the major cloud vendors have now made initial steps towards providing multi-cloud architectures: Microsoft has developed Azure Arc, and Google Cloud introduced Anthos to give customers a way to manage applications running on multiple clouds and their own data centers. Amazon ECS Anywhere and Amazon EKS Anywhere may not yet offer the same degree of support for multi-cloud deployments but we note the desire within AWS to accommodate, if not to improve support for, customers that want their data to be available beyond the AWS cloud boundaries.
The drivers for a shift to multi-cloud are undeniable. The demand for compute capacity for edge requirements, multi-cloud requirements, and the ever-increasing demand for storage and networking to service those needs requires increasingly efficient and capable responses. Customers drive this demand, and need secure, manageable and operationally simple solutions that extend well beyond the historical boundaries of the cloud.
AWS has stayed at the top of the cloud services market by adapting to change, and this change will ultimately be no different. While multi-cloud might be a word that is never said by AWS, their actions speak louder about their direction and their recognition of what customers need. In the end, ready access to shared data anywhere benefits the customers that want it, so cloud vendors will remove the obstacles that prevent their customers getting what they want, including multi-cloud.
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