Humorous metaphor about the cloud aside, this is a not-so-lighthearted blog entry. This is the convergence of progress, loss, and humility.
In the fall of 2015, Salesforce.com (SFDC) announced upcoming initiatives for the Internet of Things (IoT). For the uninitiated, IoT refers to technology that power things like FitBit, and allowing you to regulate the temperature in your home from an app on your phone. Anyhow, what we now know is that this project was envisioned with AWS as the backbone.
By some accounts, the affected infrastructure team at SFDC advocated fiercely for themselves. After all, they had built something in the industry which is still unparalleled, despite many newcomers in the field. Salesforce.com was all about the cloud, even when it was derided, not like today when everyone who’s not rushing to it is considered ancient.
The SFDC staff is well-known for being forward-thinking, customer-centered, and on the verge of being rabid fans of their own products. SFDC has reached the notoriety it has, partly because they are constantly willing to re-invent the product, support the developer community, and delight their customers. But still, they did something that too many technical workers are familiar with.
The trial balloon was a single project; it worked well enough that AWS could pitch taking over more, and they found a receptive audience in Mr. Benioff. It may not be a full-scale migration to AWS now, but it’s significant enough to cause some trepidation. $400 million
What does this new relationship mean for customers and employees of SFDC and AWS?
Not all customers are affected in like manner. Large consumers of these services already have an affinity for certain cloud service providers. Developers and other engineers, I believe, will bear the brunt of these changes, for better or for worse. It is not simply experimentation on their part, for the sake of keeping up with cool technology. it is also their livelihood. There’s always more material to learn than time in which to learn it. Continuous education is important, but by no wise, easy.
As well as some niches in tech may pay, disruptions like these always send a tremor, a signal, through the industry. Since AWS’ popularity is still on the upswing, those engineers could conceivably expand their skillset to include it. But I’m sure that, given SFDC’s standing in the industry, they never thought that they could be so easily displaced.
In recent years and months, companies large and small make various claims about how they’re powering the cloud. Such names include “traditional” companies that are better known for being stodgy, as well as true upstarts: DigitalOcean, RackSpace, IBM, EMC, Microsoft, HP Enterprise, and more. The next tier of vendors offer services that are built on top of the offerings by companies like Rackspace, but they are offering essentially the services under their own label.
In a world where our choices are seemingly always expanding, this is a sobering reminder that consolidation is still part of the equation.