By now, it’s apparent that no single provider of cloud services is likely to dominate the market any time soon. A recent survey of 100 IT executives at Global 2000 companies conducted by Goldman Sachs finds slightly more organizations are now using Microsoft Azure than Amazon Web Services (AWS). Of course, the number of workloads running on AWS is still several orders of magnitude larger than Azure, but it’s safe to say many organizations will wind up employing both AWS and Azure alongside other cloud platforms for the foreseeable future.

Moreover, the Goldman Sachs survey confirms that all workloads will not be moving into the cloud. Based on the survey results, Goldman Sachs estimates 23 percent of workloads are now on public clouds, which thy expect to reach 43 percent in three years.

The challenge IT organizations now face is that these different cloud platforms represent stacks of applications and IT infrastructure that are managed in isolation from one another. It’s only a matter of time before those IT organizations look to become more operationally efficient by unifying the management of multiple cloud platforms under a common management plane. In fact, that plane will not only unify the management of public clouds, it will also be employed to manage clouds deployed both in existing onpremise IT environments as well as emerging edge computing platforms.

The race to build a management plane

IT vendors are already racing to provide that management plane. AWS, Microsoft, and Google are all extending the reach of their platforms into onpremises IT environments. At the same time, Dell Technologies is building a management plane that extends its reach beyond onpremises IT environments. Dell is essentially making a case for extending a management plane into public cloud computing environments versus relying on a new one that owned and operated by a cloud service provider. The next major Battle Royale in IT will undoubtedly be for control over that management plane.

Most IT organizations, however, are likely not going to want be not dependent on any provider of IT platforms to create that management plane. By either building it themselves or partnering with a managed service provider, IT organizations will not wake up one day to find themselves locked into any cloud platform regardless of whether its running in an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) environment or local data center.

While different classes of application workloads may run better on one platform versus another, the fact remains that all public cloud services have become carbon copies of one another. The only thing fundamentally different is the application programming interfaces (APIs) used to access any given service. As the novelty of public cloud computing continues to wear off, IT organizations are going to finally come to terms with public clouds being an extension of their onpremise IT environments. Savvy managed service providers (MSPs) should be looking to get in front of that transition by unifying multiple cloud practices if they have not done so already. Going into 2020 and beyond, customers are going to be less interested in having a conversation about any one specific IT platform.

That, of course, is great news for MSPs that have expertise across multiple cloud platforms. It’s also clarion call to those that have specialized on one cloud platform to expand their horizons if they hope to stay relevant in what will surely be a tumultuous IT decade ahead.

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Photo:  Simon Bratt /Shutterstock.

Mike Vizard

Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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