The Cloud as a Foundation

The cloud for computing is a fascinating structure. I know there are plenty of jokes about the cloud just being someone else’s computer, and there are good reasons not to use the cloud. However, there are also lots of good reasons to use the cloud. Whether you choose to embrace it or avoid it, cloud computing is going to be a part of our careers for a long time. The use is growing, and more and more companies are shifting workloads to cloud services.

How that will evolve, especially for data-intensive systems, will be fascinating. One of the interesting changes that seems to be taking places is the growth of database and data stores that fulfill specialized roles for customers. Snowflake might be one of the most well-known examples, but there are plenty more. The number of offerings is growing, and perhaps this is another evolution of how the cloud will integrate into more businesses.

To date, most of the large cloud providers (Azure, AWS, GCP) are offering a full stack of different systems that you use to deploy code and run applications. These cobbled-together services and platforms often lock customers into a particular cloud, though that isn’t what many organizations would like. Especially in some regulated industries that mandate multiple clouds be used for redundancy. This article talks about the cloud as a foundation on which other customers can build services or platforms, especially data platforms.

This is something I would like to see. Snowflake is something that a company can run on AWS, Azure, or GCP.  CockroachDB is another that allows customers to work with the platform on the provider of their choice. I like the idea of a wider set of platforms built upon cloud providers, but in a way that allows customers to move if need be, and also pressures cloud providers to keep pricing in line with each other.

In my mind, the more we find innovative companies building cloud-native data stores and other products, the more pressure on existing companies to improve their offerings. Competition is good, and it brings us new tools, while also forcing existing companies to update their offerings. It’s not perfect, as sometimes we get new features without quality improvements in the base product, but without competition, we might not get that anyway.

I am fascinated and pleased by the cloud. The more I learn and work with it, the more I appreciate this as a truly new way of approaching the building and operating of software.

Steve Jones

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