The cloud land-grab continues: Netflix, Spotify, Bitly, GE Healthcare and DropBox

There is a land-grab going on between the various public cloud providers. Whether it’s AWS, IBM, Microsoft or Google, they are all wanting to declare victories and demonstrate their prowess. Alongside the continuous stream of technical and service announcements, each one has been wheeling out benchmark customers who have joined their cause.

Google’s poster-child was Spotify:

“As a company most often associated with amazing music recommendations and awesome parties (not to mention life-changing employee benefits), it’s rare that we get to talk about the exciting world of technical infrastructure – the real power behind the music – but today is special. Today we are announcing that we’re working with the Google Cloud Platform team to provide platform infrastructure for Spotify, everywhere.”

The Google differentiator for Spotify is reported to have been its data and analytics services, something that is clearly very important to Spotify. Streaming music is only part of the experience that Spotify is seeking to deliver, another significant proportion of the experience is the way that Spotify surfaces new music and connects you with music you used to love but have forgotten about.

The recent big announcement for AWS has been from Netflix who have completed their migration out of their data centres for their steaming service.  Netflix is a very important poster-child for AWS because Netflix accounts for a huge proportion of Internet traffic as a whole, probably over 40% at peak times. Compare that to 2012 when the figure for AWS was nearer 1% of all Internet traffic. The scale of Netflix is phenomenal, and it’s AWS that delivers that scale.

The IBM customer announcement that caught my attention was that Bitly would be moving its services. Bitly is one of those capabilities that is a bit invisible as a URL shortener, but it deals with huge volumes of transactions and gets 12 billion clicks a month. Each transaction might be tiny but Bitly’s continued survival relies on it servicing those requests quickly and reliably, particularly when it’s handling links for the likes of the New York Times (nyti.ms) and Pepsi (pep.si). This deal appears to be like many cloud deals at the moment, with Bitly choosing IBM and IBM embedding Bitly capabilities into its services.

While the others have made announcements with customers who are out-and-out Internet companies, Microsoft’s announcements have focussed more on the enterprise customer. The one that caught my attention was from GE Healthcare who provides medical diagnostic, medical imaging and patient monitoring solutions amongst other things. Being in healthcare, this business has to deal with all sorts of regulations and doesn’t see those regulations as an inhibitor to a move into the public cloud. They’ve also been around for over 100 years so age isn’t a reason not to go to the public cloud either.

The other customer story of note from the last few days has been the decision by DropBox to move away from AWS and into their own cloud. This isn’t a failure of the cloud, but rather an indication of the success of DropBox. For some organisations, a time may come when they are so big that it makes sense to run their own compute and storage utility, but that’s not a situation that applies to many organisations. Time will tell whether it really applies to DropBox.

If you have public cloud mentally pigeon-holed into start-ups and testing scenarios, these customer examples demonstrate that you really do need to think again.


Graham ChastneyGraham Chastney is a Technologist in CSC’s Global Infrastructure Services. He has worked in the arena of workplace technology for over 25 years, starting as a sysprog supporting IBM DISOSS and DEC All-in-1. Latterly Graham has been working with CSC’s customers to help them understand how they exploit the changing world of workplace technology. Graham lives with his family in the United Kingdom.

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