Monday, March 4, 2024

Smaller Alternatives to AWS Cloud

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It’s clear that Amazon Web Services is the dominant vendor in cloud computing. Its CDN is fast and global, and its menu of related tools is vast: AI, IoT, all manner of compute services.

On the other hand, using AWS isn’t simple. And the cloud giant has never been known for customer service, if your account is on the smaller end.

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So what if you’re a smaller company whose cloud requirements don’t require AWS? What might be an appropriate choice for your team? Even as the big cloud vendors grab most of the market share, there are a few smaller players worth looking at.

To provide guidance, I spoke with Michael Fauscette, Chief Research Office, G2. Among the topics we covered:

1) Why look for a smaller cloud alternative?

2) Smaller cloud vendors worth considering.

3) The role of multicloud in small cloud vendor selection.

4) The future of cloud as vendors shift and grow

(See the video and a transcript of highlight below.)


Michael Fauscette

Chief Research Office, G2

Edited transcript of highlights:

Reasons to Look for an AWS Alternative

M. Fauscette: If I don’t have a lot of skilled developers, I just have a limited number, who don’t necessarily have the right experience, they don’t already know how to use those tools, there could be simpler solutions available that are even more cost-effective [than AWS].

This is because I don’t have to train people, I don’t have to hire different people, and they do enough of what I need that it meets my needs right now. And I’m not trying to scale out to be a global company, then [a smaller cloud vendor] is a good choice.

Additionally, the ease of use piece is really important. If I have the right skillset, Amazon is a great toolset. But it also is fairly complex and can be complex to set up. Maybe an alternative vendor, a smaller vendor, might have an easier to use set or a more generic set of tools that would meet my needs just as well.

A First Step To Looking for Alternative Cloud Vendors

M. Fauscette: The truth is, each vendor has strengths and weaknesses. Understanding two things: understanding what you really need and then understanding those [vendor] strengths and weaknesses, will help you find the best match.

The best match means you’re much more likely to meet the goals that you set up for your project upfront. You’re much more likely to spend the right amount of money–not too much money for something that’s overkill, or not enough money on something that didn’t do what you needed.

Finding the best fit, and understanding the different strengths and weaknesses of every provider, is important if you’re going into a project. Especially if it’s something that you’ve invested in for the long term. Obviously infrastructure and services is a big choice for the business – it’s really important for the business to make good decision on that.

Smaller Alternatives

M. Fauscette: DigitalOcean actually has a nice set of tools, and they’re highly rated by their users. We have a number of reviews for them, and we get things like “Really great customer support,” or, “We find them really easy to use, and scalable,” “They’re really good performance.”

Support is one of the biggest things I hear from them. They have really good customer service. So, I think those are important criteria as well. And if that’s something you really care about, then it would be something good for you to look at.

Time and again the reviews we see of the DigitalOcean platform [showcase] that its fast, with high-performance, and it has really good quality support. We do see comments like, “It’s not the least expensive offering.” Again, it’s a good trade off on what you want, but it does have good ratings and I think it’s certainly a reasonable alternative to look at.

Also, Green Cloud Technologies. It’s definitely a much smaller player. But, while they don’t have the market presence of Amazon or even DigitalOcean, they’re seen as very cost effective. Which, in this market it’s certainly commoditized and it’s very competitive, but again, cost could be a really important factor.

They have good customer service, and a good reputation for good user experience. For many service providers, many of them use Green Cloud so it’s a good alternative in that space.

Considering Multicloud As Projects Shift

M. Fauscette: It’s really common to see people using different [cloud] tools for different use cases. What I see in most shops is, there tends to be a core platform of tools that they to go with. But then, when it’s something specific, they may need capabilities or alternatives. You’ll see that multi-cloud come in.

Also Rackspace has been around for awhile in this space. But they’ve gone down a different path. They’re more in the area of managing activities. They use this idea of serverless computing.

Future of Cloud As Vendors Grow and Change

M. Fauscette: I don’t think there’s any question that you’ll see users converge around AWS and Google and Amazon. And IBM, Oracle and others who have that kind of ecosystem that they can build around.

But at the same time, I think you’re going to continue to need specialty types of applications and vendors that are going to deliver a capability that’s perhaps more high-performance, more high-availability. It will be more something that would not really fit into a model that’s this broad portfolio of product, but really fits into this, “I’m really good at this one capability that you really need,” or, “I’m going to serve the market where I don’t want to train people to do this.”

I think there are niche cloud plays that will continue to be interesting in the infrastructures of the service market for the foreseeable future.

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