Cloud is for poor companies

I heard that statement from Greg Ferro (@etherealmind) in a podcast a few weeks back.

I have to admit, I was a bit surprised and had a look at Greg’s tweets and posts, while finishing up the podcast.

Of course, the catchphrase is aimed at shocking, but it is quite well defended, and I have to agree, to some point with Greg on that.

Let me try to explain Greg’s point, as far as I have understood it.


The IaaS/PaaS platforms, and some of the SaaS ones, are aimed at providing you with on the shelf functionalities and apps, to develop your product quicker. And also to let you focus on your own business, rather than building every expertise needed out there to support your business. However, there are some underlying truths, and even drawbacks :

  1. When you are using someone else’s “product”, you are tied to what this company will do with it. For example, if you were not a Citrix shop, and wanted to use Microsoft Remote Desktop on Azure… you are stuck as MS has discontinued RDS support on Azure, in favor of Citrix. To be a little less extreme, you will have to follow the lifecycle of the product you are using in the cloud, whether it matches with your own priorities and planning. IF you stay on-premises, even with a commercial product, you can still keep an old version, admittedly without support at some point in time. If you build you own solution… then you’re the boss!
  2. The cloud services are aimed at being up and running in minutes, which helps  young companies and startups focus their meager resources on their business. And that’s good! Do you imagine starting a company today and having to setup all of your messaging/communication/office/email solution during a few weeks before being able to work for real? Of course not! You’ll probably start on Gapps, or Office 365 in a few minutes. It’s the same if you start building a software solution, IoT for example. Will you write every service you need from the ground up? Probably not. You’ll start with PaaS building blocks to manage the message queueing and device authentication. Nevertheless, as your product gains traction, and your needs become very specific, you will surely start to build your own services, to match your needs exactly.
  3. And last but not least… the cloud companies are here to make money. Which means, at a point in time, it will not be profitable for you to use their services, rather than build your own.


There might be some other drawbacks, but I would like to point out a few advantages of cloud services, even on the long term.

  1. Are you ready to invest the kind of money these companies invested in building their services and infrastructure? Granted, you might not need their level of coverage (geography, breadth of services etc.).
  2. Are you ready to make some long term plans and commitments? You need them if you want to invest and build those services yourself
  3. You might be a large, rich company, but if you want to start a new product/project, cloud services may still be a good solution, until you’ve validated that long term plan.


Say you’re building a video streaming service. You would start using AWS or Azure to support all of your services (backend, storage, interface, CDN etc.) But the cloud providers have built their services to satisfy the broader spectrum, and they may not be able to deliver exactly what you need. When your services are more popular, you will start building your own CDN, or supplement the one you have with a specific caching infrastructure, hosted directly within the ISP infrastructure. Yes, this is Netflix 😀


Any thoughts on that?

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