No matter the outcome, a cloud pricing war will leave DevOps the winner
By now you probably saw the news and all of the buzz about how Google dropped its drawers eh, pricing on its cloud hosting. This is of course a direct shot at Amazon’s AWS. It’s about time someone with big enough stones (and a big enough data center) took on Bezos and his band of merry cloud makers. But the real winner in all of this may in fact turn out to be DevOps.
Of course this is just the first salvo in what promises to go down in history as Cloud War I. Amazon is not going to stand still. They are perfectly willing to compete on price and in fact part of the AWS mystique is that it is the most cost effective solution (cheapest) out there.
This will not be just a tit-for-tat move though. In announcing the price cuts Urs Hölzle, VP of TI at Google said, “”We think cloud pricing should track Moore’s Law, so we’re simplifying and reducing prices for our various on-demand, pay-as-you-go services by 30 to 85 percent.” That means we are going to see cloud prices drop as the speed and power of chips goes up. That is good news! You can see Hölzle’s complete presentation including a cameo by SnapChat’s Bobby Murphy below (be warned this is about 1 hour and 20 minutes long).[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qokEYBNWA_0]
Of course this begs the question, what about the other cloud providers. How long can Rackspace sit up on its OpenStack perch before diving into this fray? What about Microsoft’s Azure? Redmond wants its piece of the cloud pie, does new CEO Satya Nadella have the stomach for this fight? Can they afford not to? The fact is that Microsoft has the girth and arsenal to compete here. Maybe Google starting this war is the opening they need to climb out of the tech cellar and be relevant again. Cisco just announced a billion dollar initiative to become a cloud powerhouse as well. As big as a billion is though, that is penny stakes in this game I am afraid.
Here is another one to watch, IBM’s SoftLayer. Fresh off of a 2b+ acquisition and pledging another billion in cloud dollars, IBM via SoftLayer has the profile to be a winner in this war as well. They also have IBM’s minions out pushing the solutions. In fact Microsoft and SoftLayer/IBM may have the channels to win this thing in the long run (OK maybe not).
So where does this leave DevOps? Think Switzerland. From a DevOps perspective it really doesn’t make a difference which cloud provider emerges dominant. The cheaper and more attractive cloud becomes the more it will drive better DevOps tools, DevOps culture and philosophy.
Of course there are those that say that if PaaS becomes the dominant cloud platform (and I think it will), that could spell trouble for DevOps. As if somehow PaaS doesn’t need DevOps. I say poppycock to that too. Maybe you won’t configure servers in a PaaS environment (and I am not conceding that either), but there will be plenty of places along path that will call for automation, continuous delivery, continuous monitoring and continuous management. PaaS does not obliviate DevOps.
That is not to say that applications are not king. Applications are driving the cloud, DevOps and everything else tech today. A large reason why Google is so goo-goo over Cloud is because it drives more Android apps. I think we will see more DevOps tools and practice around application development, configuration, management and monitoring. New Relic is already on it. Anything related to Docker stands to do as well as munition and tank manufacturers did during WW II.
So buckle in as it may get rough out there as these tech giants battle for cloud supremacy, there an will be winners and there will be losers. It won’t be just the cloud providers either. Wars create opportunity and those willing to take the chance will gain the most.
But for DevOps it is all good. It is like we have a stash of chocolate and gold while we make watches here in Geneva. The war rages on around us but we need at the end of the day no matter what we win.