If only those cloud vendors would stop innovating, we might eventually settle on “lowest common denominator” commodity services that could make “multicloud” more of a reality. I’ve been writing about this for years; namely, that while vendors peddle the ability to run workloads across multiple clouds, the reality is that each cloud provider has native services that simply aren’t available on rival clouds. You can wish that weren’t true, but it’s true all the same.

And getting more true all the time.

Even the most cursory of reviews of the work that Microsoft, Google, Amazon, or Alibaba are doing suggests there really is no such thing as commodity services. But does this mean multicloud is completely, utterly dead? No, as MongoDB and others seem determined to demonstrate. 

There’s no such thing as commodity in the cloud

But first, the dream! Workloads that magically work across different clouds! Analyst Corey Quinn, however, is skeptical. He has some concerns with that idea:

[T]he idea of building workloads that can seamlessly run across any cloud provider or your own data centers with equal ease… is compelling and something I would very much enjoy. However, it’s about as practical as saying “just write bug-free code” to your developers—or actually trying to find the spherical cow your physics models dictate should exist. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

Software (and cloud) simply don’t work that way. Thanks to the efforts of different cloud vendors, the universe of “lowest common denominator” keeps shrinking as cloud services like compute and storage gain in innovative differentiation, rather than dwindle down to a muddle of sameness.

For example, what could be more commodity than storage? Sure, if you say the words “object storage,” “block storage,” etc., then you can find the same thing in pretty much any cloud. But look deeper at, say, how Google builds storage, and suddenly things don’t look quite so “same.” Google has built its archive systems in software policy rather than hardware, which means coldline storage has the same access latency as top-tier storage.

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