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24. March 2021

The Seven Dirty Words Amazon Won’t Let You Say

Enterprises using public cloud need to be cautious of allowing Amazon to dominate their corporate data too.

The late, great George Carlin had his seven dirty words that could not be said on television, and the once-great Amazon now has seven dirty words of its own: “multi cloud,” “cross cloud,” “any cloud,” “every cloud,” “partner,” “partnership,” and “partnering.”

So say the latest guidelines from Amazon Web Services Partner Network. (Full disclosure: the company I helm is an AWS partner, or should I say, an “AWS significant other”?) It’s no secret that in AWS’ view, the only “multi-cloud” or tiering they recommend is from say S3 to Glacier to Glacier Deep Archive, i.e. all AWS offerings. In their view, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, and all the others just don’t exist, or rather they’re trying to pretend so, and insist their partners comply.

“Amazon Web Services doesn’t want partners to spill the beans that other clouds exist,” wrote Brendon Foye in the Australian edition of CRN magazine. “These sorts of co-branding guidelines aren’t uncommon for global corporations, tech or otherwise. What does come as a surprise is AWS’ unwillingness to even mention other clouds exist despite the increasing popularity of hybrid cloud environments.”

He’s not kidding. A Gartner survey of enterprises using public cloud said more than 81 percent have multiple providers, primarily to prevent vendor lock-in and to use distinctive features of different clouds. It is also the recommended strategy to lower risk in cloud adoption and maximize benefits.

AWS has huge market share, almost half, bigger than the next four players combined. The 800-pound gorilla can certainly make its own rules, including what words their partners use to describe their own services. But this weird flex should set off alarm bells for users.

Users want and need integration and compatibility among their tech systems and vendors. Multi-cloud enablement and collaborative partnerships are the rule, not the exception. Again, louder, for the people in the back: more than 81 percent of us already use more than one cloud.

In defense of AWS, most–not all but most–vendors make it difficult and expensive to remove your data from their cloud. They bill based on your usage, and they aren’t keen on customers going to the competition, so costs for egress are double or higher than ingress.

But economics are only one factor. Agility and flexibility to shift data or workloads is arguably more important. One service may be best for performance, while one may boast better security or access control. Users may need to house specific data within a specific geographic region to meet regulatory policies or to serve remote teams. Next month or next year, those requirements may change, and so will the way we allocate resources.

How does AWS address multi-cloud cooperation? By refusing to even discuss it. Or let their market partners discuss it.

Despite all the InstantPots and auto-shipped dog treats we buy, Amazon earns more from AWS than its e-commerce division. It already dominates our shopping, our reading, and our TV/movie watching. Enterprises using public cloud need to be cautious of allowing it to dominate their corporate data too.