Vendor Lock-in Makes a Comeback
Though the party line in the industry remains that lock-in is anathema, I’ve been hearing from an increasingly large number of companies that they’re considering standardizing on locked in proprietary cloud development platforms such as Amazon Lambda or Google App Engine instead of leveraging a cloud vendor neutral platform like Cloud Foundry or OpenShift.
The fact that large enterprises with significant resources are even considering this shocked me at first. But after listening to their reasoning, I started to understand better. It comes down to a simple question: what kind of company are they?
For example, is Netflix’s core competency more about the technology or more about the content? Of course technology is important to every company today, but is that what separates it from its competitors? Is technology the biggest difference between Netflix and HBO Go? Or is it House of Cards vs. Westworld?
Netflix believes its core competency is content, not technology. That’s why it’s investing $16B in new content and leveraging every AWS service it can, even though it locks them in. Other big enterprises are taking notice of this and following in their footsteps.
It all raises serious questions about the cloud: Is the willingness to accept lock-in a reaction to cloud technology that is getting too complex? Are cloud-agnostic solutions like Cloud Foundry too challenging to implement at scale in a reliable and robust way?
It will be very interesting to see how this dynamic plays out in 2018.
Trickle-Down Cloud Mandates
More companies will seek to go cloud — not always because it’s technically the right decision, but because CEOs and shareholders will issue mandates that the company go cloud.
These mandates will raise anxiety levels among the teams who must execute them. They’ll struggle with questions over legacy apps that need to re-architected or pulled apart into micro-services. They’ll lose sleep over whether they have the staff and technical skills to accomplish it.
The cloud is a historic game-changer, but 2018 will bring additional pressures for the companies moving to it.
Startups (Not Google) will Drive AI Growth
AI has enormous potential to transform business and society, but the hype will become even more unbearable in 2018, especially with significant advances in the technology from Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
In fact, it’s gotten to the point that people are starting to wonder if all major AI advancements will be coming from the big companies. After all, they keep hiring as many AI scientists as they can find.
However, I predict that some of the most innovative and interesting work that will be coming out of AI will come from unexpected startups. The big companies are thinking about ways to iterate existing AI product lines (Alexa, Siri, Cortina, etc.), but will struggle thinking of ways to apply AI in ways that don’t currently exist.
And if there’s one thing for certain, the biggest impact of AI has not been invented yet. It’s notoriously hard to imagine what hasn’t been invented yet, but historically that has typically come from startups more often than it has from big companies.