October 16, 2017

Walmart vs Amazon – Why Cloud Portability has become a Business Imperative?

How portable are the cloud solutions you are leveraging? Know the four variables that are part of the cloud portability equation, namely – data, application, platform and infrastructure.

This year in June two very important announcements were made out of Seattle, WA, and Bentonville, AR respectively. One was about the Whole foods acquisition by Amazon and the other was Walmart instructing its suppliers and anyone doing business with them to get any applications, systems or services off AWS if they were on Amazon’s cloud. This article addresses what the latter event means to anyone doing business in the Retail. CPG, Manufacturing and Logistical spaces today. From this point on – any and all data and systems that use or go through Amazon’s AWS computing resources need to get off it in order to continue doing business with Walmart. Translation – if you have Applications, SAAS1, DAAS2, PAAS3 or IAAS4 services that leverage AWS – you need to port them over or find an alternative and fast! Actually, I came to that conclusion too quickly – if you are an enterprise affected by this – you should take a step back and assess the overall cloud portability of the data, software, and services you use or leverage in the cloud – directly and indirectly.  Why am I just now writing about this? Well I have been traveling quite a bit internationally of late and the only reason this is relevant to this article is because of the analogy i’m using to explain the topic to make it a more enjoyable read – more on that below.

At this point you are probably wondering the following:

  1. Is this a hoax?
  2. If not, is my business/company impacted?
  3. If so how? And what questions (let alone answers) do I need to be asking?

Before we go there – let’s take a minute to understand what cloud portability means. Here is what Webopedia defines it as -” … the ability to move applications and its associated data between one Cloud provider to another with minimal disruption and/or downtime”.  If that didn’t do it for you OAGIS has an awesome paper worth reading – albeit a very heavy technical read. I have found that for my “User” constituents (yes it’s a Tron reference) neither the high level nor too low/detailed level of information on this subject helps. My attempt here is to make this more straightforward so that you can take appropriate action.

Four variables of Cloud Portability

There are 4 main variables that are part of the cloud portability equation, namely – data, application, platform and infrastructure. Data is either stuff you generate (supply) or consume (demand) depending on your role as the trading partner. Applications are code components that perform Create/Read/Update/Delete functions on the Data. Depending on how your applications are built you could either have platforms that contain and manage the application which sit on a cloud provider’s infrastructure or the infrastructure and platform are one and the same (also called Bare-metal).

If the cloud application is designed and built leveraging (and tied to) a specific cloud provider’s (in this case AWS’) platform and/or infrastructure capabilities – then the amount of rework involved at all layers goes up when it comes time to migrate or port-from one provider to another. The same scenario also applies depending on what persistence stores are used for storing the data.

This brings me back to my traveling and my analogy. When you travel internationally, you know you have to account for power adapters to charge and power your electronic devices (120v-220v and various wattage requirements) and various region/country/continent specific plug/pin types). Designing, building & maintaining for cloud interoperability is like the Swiss Army knife of power chargers – you need one with the most options – so you can work with your devices (application) in different countries or regions. The cloud providers, like the country-specific power regulations, are only making things more complex. Ensuring you are adopting cloud-based solutions with portability and interoperability baked-in by design is the only way to ensure your business can adapt to the changing business conditions as they arise.

How portable are the cloud solutions you are leveraging? Hopefully, now you know how to peel that onion and be more action oriented on this topic. As a data management company, Riversand has invested heavily in making our next generation MDM & PIM platform multi-cloud portable by design to ensure that porting between cloud providers is as seamless as possible. This helps our customers adapt to not only the current situation with Walmart (and Target) vs Amazon but also with country-specific regulations around privacy, GDPR in Europe and beyond. Come see for yourself at www.riversand.com

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Omer Farooque

By Omer Farooque

On October 16, 2017

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