Amazon Web Services (AWS) has maintained its grip as the leader in cloud computing with a 33% market share, according to Synergy Research Group. AWS has kept this margin now for 12 quarters while the cloud market has tripled in size. Microsoft, IBM, and Google have also grown their market share, but they have not been able to put a dent in AWS’s growth. With the Big Four dominating cloud computing, is there any reason to consider a smaller niche cloud service? The quarterly cloud service revenues are at nearly $15 billion which leaves much cloud to go around. While Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Google dominate the market today, there is still plenty of room for competitors to find lucrative niches that meet changing business needs. Let us take a deeper dive into why your business might consider a cloud service provider that is not one of the big four.
ComplianceCloud providers are bringing service to many regions around the globe which is great for competition, but not all services will meet compliance requirements. Companies in the regulatory space, which collect about customers, must make sure that data does not leave the geographical boundary of their country. Companies may have other processes and controls that require a hybrid model, keeping some data in the cloud and some stored locally. A smaller cloud provider may be more accommodating to your complex needs. Compliance often leads to discussions about multicloud, which involves mixing public, private, and hybrid cloud solutions to expand your data center while maintaining compliance. Compliance comprises a lot more than HIPPA, and it may mean working with a smaller cloud provider along with one of the big four to find the right solution.
CostAmazon has a reputation for aggressive pricing with AWS, which is a lot easier to do when you are nearly three times as large as your nearest competitor. Do not assume that the big four will always have the most cost-effective solution though. Pricing among cloud service providers can vary widely based on your workload. You might not need all the services the big four provide. MSPs know what workloads perform best on specific cloud services. Use their knowledge to your advantage to find the best solution. The MSP will understand your environment better than anyone else, and they are not beholden to a specific cloud provider. Once they know your storage and application needs, they can help compare costs among cloud providers. They can then help compare expenses between per-minute billing and hourly billing. The pricing terminology can be confusing. Lean on your MSP to help you along the way.
FlexibilityEach cloud provider does something well. However, none of them do everything well. Your workload may be better suited to a niche cloud provider if they offer expertise in an area that is critical to your business. You might also find that a smaller cloud provider is willing to provide better and more personalized service than you'll see with the big four. AWS offers the broadest range of services but focuses on stability over deploying the latest in cloud technology. Google is an excellent choice for big data and machine learning instances while Microsoft is the best for deploying Windows workloads. However, your company’s needs might be in security or analytics or disaster recovery, and you might find a niche provider can provide a more customized platform than what the big four offers.
ServiceEach cloud provider offers varying levels of technical support with costs associated with how quickly you need issues resolved. However, each cloud provider approaches support differently. Some cloud providers offer flat monthly support plans, while others tie support costs to actual usage. How important are responsiveness and the friendliness of support staff? Do they speak your native language? Some big companies like Microsoft have support down to a science, but it comes at the cost of being robotic but generally useful. Other companies may take a more hands-on approach and assign an account manager who can muster resources around the company when you most need it. The big four will want to get you into an SLA. Are they willing to tailor it to your needs? How much help can they you with the setup? Do they make it easy to migrate to another service? These are questions to ask before you sign on the dotted line.
ConclusionYou may perform your research and due diligence and decide one of the big four offers the best solution for your needs. However, do not let their dominance prevent you from looking to the smaller providers who may provide a more customized and well-rounded solution.
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