I think I’ve written about this before, but it seems to bear mentioning whenever a large retailer goes on national television talking about why it will not use the Amazon Web Services cloud. In this case, it’s grocery chain Kroger (which owns several chains across the United States), whose CIO went on CNBC on Tuesday and explained why it will only use Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure
for future cloud expansion.
The general thinking among retailers – including Walmart, Target, Home Depot and others, in addition to Kroger – seems to be that it’s against their best interests to spend money on a platform that provides the majority of Amazon’s operating profit. This was true when it was just Amazon’s flagship e-commerce business siphoning brick-and-mortar sales, and even more true now that Amazon is getting into the brick-and-mortar business itself with its Whole Foods acquisition. Thanks to the ascent of Google and Microsoft as competitive cloud providers, blacklisting AWS is an easier stance to take today than it was a few years ago when AWS was really the only public cloud game in town.
Really, though, it’s possible that AWS – which will generate about $16 billion in 2017 – isn’t sweating the loss of potential retail-industry customers too much. Not only is it already crushing the competition in terms of IaaS spending, but brick-and-mortar retail is a hurting industry that Amazon and its online peers will continue to kick while it’s down.
So, yeah, Amazon could spin out AWS in an attempt to convince retailers it’s less of a competitive threat. Or, it could just continue on its path of world domination and watch AWS and Amazon revenues keep rising – while its struggling retail rivals become less attractive as big moneymakers for AWS.
If there’s a big concern for Amazon, it might be that business from large enterprises like Kroger and Target could help spur more large customers to move to Google’s and Microsoft’s clouds. Or that building on top of those clouds will somehow inject more life into retailers and make them more competitive with Amazon online. But as the company continues to expand and work its way into every facet of consumers’ lives, something tells me it’s not spending too much time looking over its shoulder.
In other news, cloud-based data-processing/analytics startup Qubole raised $25 million
, bringing its total funding to $75 million since launching in 2011. I’ve been following the company since then, and it has been interesting to watch its evolution from mostly a Hadoop-in-the-cloud service into a more full-fledged platform for everything from ETL to data science. It has some big-name customers and now some more money in the bank, but it still faces well-funded competition from cloud-based rivals like Databricks, AWS, Google, Microsoft and IBM, and increasingly Cloudera and Hortonworks.
I think the next couple of years will be really telling in the big data space, as workloads continue to shift from on-premises to the cloud, and as applications evolve from BI and predictive analytics to AI and IoT-type processing. How much capital a company like Qubole needs to remain competitive, and independent, remains to be seen. Perhaps I’ll ask the company’s CEO, Ashish Thusoo about it next week when I interview him at the Structure conference
in San Francisco.