Fueled by hiccups from two oversized players, recent reports of the cloud’s death have been greatly exaggerated. To the degree tech pundits have been checking its pulse, the cloud is presumed to hover in a fixed point somewhere near the Space Needle. As the new year progresses, it’s become abundantly clear that Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon Web Services are not the cloud. The cloud exists precisely for those small and mid-size businesses that lack a tech army. Microsoft and Amazon simply aren’t set up to focus on niche segments without a Fortune-style customer in the mix. They thrive on a “high volume, low transaction cost” model, which was never intended to accommodate small and mid-size businesses.
The cloud, however, is nothing if not radically dispersed — it’s a vast ecosystem consisting of thousands and thousands of vendors with offerings tailor-made for verticals and specific markets. By that measure, Amazon and Microsoft are but two players within a very large landscape, which is why you won’t find many small businesses hanging out with Azure or AWS. The cloud wasn’t even invented in Seattle. That honor goes to VMware (in Silicon Valley) and RedHat (in Raleigh, N.C.).