Today, virtually every business relies on cloud. But not everyone is able to fully take advantage of its tremendous potential. For SMBs in particular, there are still major obstacles to maximizing the cloud’s benefits.
Disparity between the laundry list of features on offer from cloud’s mega providers and the core services that SMBs actually need, adds unnecessary complexity and, often, leads to another big hurdle: cost. More than half of SMBs now spend at least $1.2M annually on cloud, but waste as much as a third of that investment because they don’t fully understand their provider’s features, pricing model, or both.
So what should SMBs actually look for when selecting a cloud? And how can they rightsize investments without compromising on essentials like support? I sat down with Blair Lyon, Head of Cloud Experience at Akamai, to discuss the evolution of cloud purchasing, and what SMBs need to consider when choosing a provider. Listen to the full conversation below.
The following transcript has been edited for length and flow.
Blair Lyon: There are a couple of ways big providers are failing SMBs. Support is the first, if it’s even offered for SMBs. Then, there’s pricing, which is typically double that of an alternative provider like Linode. So it’s a real challenge for SMBs to be efficient with their cloud operations and spending in today’s market.
SMBs simply don’t have the internal expertise to manage the complexity of mega providers’ offerings. SMBs, and even enterprises, have told us their number one concern is how to simplify infrastructure to spend more time on customer experience and create products—instead of managing cloud complexity.
Another wrench in all of this is the skills gap. It’s tough to hire anyone who understands how to use large hyperscalers’ complex systems. This all makes life difficult for SMBs seeking to be efficient with their cloud infrastructure.
Mike Maney: Let’s talk about core primitives. What are they and what do SMBs need to know about them?
Blair Lyon: SMBs need to focus on cloud compute, storage and networking capabilities. Those are the core primitives they need. Cloud compute is the virtual machines: shared and dedicated GPUs and other constructs, like Kubernetes and containers. Then you have storage, which is everything from backups to block storage and object storage. SMBs also need networking to be able to provide scale, lean on load balancers and leverage other features that make it easy to run applications in the cloud.
There is a misconception that you need the hundreds of services that big cloud providers want you to buy. But in reality, for SMBs to run applications, they just need these core capabilities.
Mike Maney: Is performance equal among providers for these core parameters?
Blair Lyon: The good news is there is a lot more variety of capabilities. With more options from alternative providers, SMBs can now choose the right fit based on their workload. And because it’s cloud, this can be scaled up or scaled down quite easily.
Five or 10 years ago, businesses thought they had to run on a large hyperscaler. But that’s changed dramatically over the last few years as alternative cloud providers like Linode have stepped up, utilizing the latest AMD processors and NVMe block storage to provide performance on par—if not better than—the large hyperscalers, at a price that’s half as expensive.
Mike Maney: Trust in the mega providers is waning. According to a Clearpath Strategies survey, one-fifth of developers say they have reason to doubt them. What does it mean to be a trustworthy provider?
Blair Lyon: Many of the mega cloud providers have conflicts of interest due to various divisions and businesses they own. Whether your data is being used without permission, or there is competition against your ecommerce shop, it starts to create doubt in your partner. The good news is that today, instead of just dealing with these issues, organizations can look to alternatives that don’t have conflicts of interest or compete against their business.
It comes down to simplicity, price and support. Those are critical for SMBs. With Akamai, Linode will now be able to handle not just cloud computing, storage, and networking, but also provide security and delivery, as well. For SMBs looking for this type of alternative, Linode has free trial credits, larger proof of concepts, and also free migration. There are several ways right now to dip your toe in the water and find out if alternative cloud is the right fit for you.