Once a market and technology matures, there tend to be a few large companies that are generalists and a second group of companies that provide niche versions of a technology.
For example, take a look at dating sites, which I'm using as an example because the industry is mature. The factors that represent maturity include:
- Time in business (15+ years)
- Market consolidation
- At least one wave of disruption (mobile hookup apps like Tinder)
There are a handful of well-known brands, such as Match Group and eHarmony. Additionally, there are dozens of very specific, much more niche dating sites you may never have heard of, such as sites for:
Many markets naturally organize themselves this way. I think the cloud has entered into this pattern where there are a couple of large, well-known and dominant players. For me, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google come to mind immediately. Ironically, they come to mind without even doing an online search on Google or Microsoft.
The second tier is forming now and will include dozens of very specific niches:
- High security cloud - -governments, etc
- Hybrid cloud -- some local, some remote
- High performance clouds -- what we use super computers for today
- Country specific clouds - -for regulation, in the U.S. & EU and specifically outside the reach of U.S's three-letter agencies.
- Kid-friendly and conversely adult-only
So what does this mean for your business?
First of all, it means more relevant options at better prices. If the large providers had to deal with every fringe request, they couldn't commoditize at their current ferocious rate. It also means that for a price you will be able to utilize the cloud for almost any need.
Second, specialization and diversification will push companies that utilized multiple providers to deliver a single solution which will cause some compatibility issues. Just the other day I had an issue with Azure not playing nice with Apple's new push notification provider. Turns out there is a security incompatibility between the two for one particular subsystem.
Taken to the extreme our systems may look more like a giant, multi-provider, conglomeration of micro-services -- but that's a conversation for another blog.
Third, large providers will circle back and try to provide everything to keep their control over the marketplace. Microsoft is an example of this with its government cloud offering. I like compatibility, but I don't like too much market control, and the top providers are getting very close to market dominance that has put companies in the past under the scrutiny of the US and EU anti-monopoly provisions.
Lately the attitude has switched from "should I consider the cloud" to "how do I get to the cloud." There are still plenty of systems that are stuck right where they are because of some sort of technical or legal block. Not for much longer. Soon, these second-tier providers will remove the final blocks, and then we will be on to the next problem to solve in IT.
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