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Beyond the “Big 3”: The Benefits of the Alternative Cloud

Beyond the “Big 3”: The Benefits of the Alternative Cloud

As businesses turn to the cloud to support their remote workforces, scale their data and development processes, and become more agile, many IT leaders still see Amazon, Microsoft, or Google as their only options to get this work done.

Today, more than half of all cloud users choose one of the big three hyperscalers. But with 54% of enterprise workloads moving to public cloud over the next 12 months, and more than one-third of users adopting a multicloud approach, more organizations are turning to alternative cloud providers.

Why? Because not every business operates at a hyperscale level. Small- and medium-sized companies, in particular, are less likely to need—and be able to afford—the extensive catalog of services from hyperscalers. Even most enterprise workloads only require a small variety of core cloud services and hardware. For many companies, alternative cloud providers are a better fit. 

From speed and performance that are comparable to that of hyperscalers to greater ease of use and lower costs, there are several reasons why companies should consider alternative providers as part of their public cloud strategy. This topic was the focus of our recent webinar, “A Look Beyond the Big 3: The Role and Importance of Alternative Providers,” hosted by SK Ventures General Partner Eric Norlin, with participants Liam Eagle, research director at 451 Research, and Dr. KellyAnn Fitzpatrick, research analyst at Redmonk. 



Here’s how these cloud experts view the growing role and importance of alternative clouds in today’s business landscape.

1) The Alternative Cloud™ Provides Core Functionality—at a Better Price  

One common misconception about alternative clouds is that they’re only for companies with particular cloud computing needs. While alternative clouds often provide specific offerings, that’s not all they do. Most companies, big or small, usually only require essential cloud services, known as core primitives, which Liam defines as compute power, storage, and networking, along with CI/CD testing environments, backup and failover protection, security, and compliance.

While cost certainly is something businesses consider before choosing a provider, price-to-performance ratio matters more. In other words, buyers must justify higher costs with equally higher performance. This ratio is where alternative cloud providers shine, offering the same (or better) compute, storage, and networking capabilities as the top hyperscalers, but at a much lower price. How? By stripping away the bells and whistles—added features and flare—that most users don’t need.

SMBs that need cloud services, but not the workload or usage volume required to justify hyperscale prices, stand to gain the most. However, organizations of all shapes and sizes can benefit from the alternative cloud’s unique features and support. 

2) IT Teams Crave an Alternative to Hyperscalers 

Developers are pushed to the brink when it comes to speeding up development cycles to deliver new products and meet customer demands. Nearly half (46%) of developers say the rate they’re expected to build and deploy software has grown significantly during the pandemic. And in the era of remote work, infrastructure resources and limitations have also become a new roadblock. 

While hyperscalers appeal to developers at larger enterprises looking for massive scalability and a vast array of other complex services, SMB and citizen developers who need cloud now—but not at the hyperscale level or cost—have been left behind. As a result, they’re turning to the simplicity and price-performance of alternative clouds to get the core services and performance they need to deliver code quickly. 

KellyAnn says this is because alternative clouds are a way for most developers to get the tools they need to build the code they want without the extra baggage of hundreds of products they’ll never use. Again, most are just looking for those core primitives—servers, databases, Kubernetes, and other core infrastructure components. For this reason, KellyAnn, a former developer herself, likens the growth of alternative clouds to the rise of open source software for custom-built solutions. 

“With open source, developers do not need to ask permission for the kinds of tools they would like to use,” she explains. “Now, with alternative clouds, they also no longer need to ask to get the infrastructure they desire. This allows developers to get back to the business of writing code, curating kitten memes, and the other very important things developers need to be doing.” 

3) Alternative Cloud Will Bridge the Growing Cloud Skills Gap

One of the biggest hurdles that stand in the way of broader cloud adoption is the growing cloud skills gap within IT teams. More than 80% of cloud leaders identified a lack of cloud skills and knowledge as their top barrier to cloud success today—and that problem is expected to grow

Both Liam and KellyAnn agree that alternative clouds will play a crucial role in helping more organizations reap the benefits of cloud services by eliminating unnecessary complexity and shortening the cloud learning curve. 

“Companies that stand to benefit the most from alternative clouds are those who want to unlock the benefits of cloud but don’t yet have the expertise to work with the most complex tools available,” states Liam.


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