Like many of you, I’ll be at Google Cloud Next in San Francisco April 9-11. A number of our customers use Google as their backing cloud, and Google does an especially good job providing customer service, something that is sorely lacking in some other large cloud services. But for my part, I’ll be most eager to hear what Google has to say about their plans for the edge.
It’s becoming clear that the other two big cloud players recognize that the cloud alone cannot address the most serious enterprise infrastructure challenges. As I’ve written before, the problem comes down to physics: cloud data centers built far from big cities can’t transfer data faster than the speed of light, which introduces significant latency that frustrates end users and slows apps to a crawl. As a result, the public cloud is increasingly getting “edgy” to address customer problems.
AWS and Azure on the edge
We predicted this trend all the way back in 2017, when we wrote:
“Whether it’s selling compute or partnering with hyperconverged providers, the prediction we’re perhaps most confident in is that in 2018, cloud providers will have more of an on-premise look.”
Recent announcements from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure show we were right. For example, take AWS Outposts, a new service announced at November’s AWS re:Invent conference. This service, which will be rolled out in the second half of this year, provides fully managed racks of AWS-designed compute and storage hardware running VMware, so customers can run AWS on premises and also connect it seamlessly to the AWS cloud.
This AWS new service doesn’t really align with the old mantra of “everything will go to the cloud.” In fact, this reads to me as a direct challenge to on-premises hyperconverged solutions like Nutanix and HPE SimpliVity. Instead of buying HCI boxes, organizations can opt to have AWS deploy and manage compute and storage on premises as a service, and it all connects seamlessly to the AWS cloud, to boot. It will be interesting to see what impact the release of Outposts has on that market space.
Another example is AWS IoT SiteWise, which is part of a larger suite of IoT services that was also announced at re:Invent. Specifically, AWS IoT SiteWise collects data from industrial sites through an on-premises gateway.
Not to be upstaged, just one week later, Microsoft announced significant updates to its own IoT service, Microsoft IoT Edge, signaling the importance it places on its edge capabilities for Azure.
Distance creates latency, and the best engineering in the world won’t make data travel faster across hundreds or even thousands of miles between the user and the cloud. The only way to provide the performance enterprise IT demands is to bring data and applications to the edge and closer to users.
What’s Google’s next move?
Google is currently the No. 3 public cloud provider, and while that’s not necessarily a bad place to be, I don’t see Google ever being satisfied with this state of affairs. If Google wants to pass Azure or dethrone AWS, the company will need to do something dramatic, and there’s a huge opportunity on the edge. Were Google to forge meaningful partnerships with edge-based providers, for instance, uniting the power of their cloud with the performance of the edge, Google could leapfrog AWS and Azure’s relatively modest forays with the edge.
At ClearSky, we’ve spent a lot of time building partnerships with edge providers.
Last year, we partnered with Faction to deliver disaster recovery (DR) on demand with VMware.
In November, we announced an agreement with Equinix that not only enables us to rapidly triple our market reach, but also gives our customers access to Platform Equinix’s direct connections to cloud providers, vendors and partners around the globe.
Most recently, we announced a deal with MetroEDGE, a company with ambitious plans to build a national network of micro data centers to provide advanced cloud services at the edge. They’ve already got one facility running in Chicago, with more to come soon.
We welcome the big cloud providers as they finally start approaching the edge. It’s a great place to be, and we should know. ClearSky has been there from the very start. I’m hoping Google will join us there soon.
Want to see how we can help you implement an edge strategy to manage your data? Read our “Life at the Edge: A cloud computing primer” or join us at Google Cloud Next.