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The Network Effect of the Cloud Native Elite

The Network Effect of the Cloud Native Elite

We are at an interesting time from a technology standpoint. The cloud, and by this we mean a way of doing things - not a physical location, has created a yawning gap between cloud-native companies and legacy vendors (many of whom are giants).

Only a few of these giants will make it to the other side.

There are multiple reasons, they lack the DNA to change, they want to protect old revenue streams that look profitable because they don’t require investment anymore, they see the problem incorrectly (such as them versus Amazon). Individually and collectively these reasons diminish the will to make innovative and difficult decisions regarding their business. There is another reason of note - one they don’t control.

The network effect of the cloud native elite.

What do we mean by this? Well, for starters, cloud-native companies are drawn to other cloud native companies. This leads to integrations, innovation and new best practices. It creates, not by intent, but in practice - a giant moat that gets wider and deeper with each additional integration. The effect is to exclude legacy providers, who simply can’t rewrite their POSIX-based interfaces into RESTful API fast enough to compete - and so they slip further and further behind.

We saw this firsthand the other day when we were doing some analysis of Accel’s Open100. We hypothesized that many of the companies on that list would have published integrations with MinIO. Indeed, 75% of them did. That is remarkably high given they had six companies in the language framework section. This tells us that true cloud-native companies integrate with other true cloud native companies at an exceptionally high rate.

Why?

  • For starters because it is easy. RESTful APIs, particularly S3, are the lingua franca of the cloud-native world in the same way that SQL is the lingua franca of the database world. That means limited friction. MinIO speaks S3 fluently - because we speak it to tens of thousands of companies. Yes, you read that correctly - because MinIO is open source under AGPL v3, our adoption numbers are in the tens of thousands of organizations. If there is an S3 error - we hear about it, often immediately. That gives us the confidence to say that our S3 compatibility is better than anyone outside of AWS itself.
  • Containerization and orchestration also play a critical role. These are the building blocks of the cloud-native elite and they are all MinIO has ever known. This is the world we were born into and, as a result, we have and continue to invest relentlessly to make that functionaliality seamless. Because of this, containerization and orchestration are the default deployment configuration for MinIO. More than 64% of our instances are containerized and almost 50% are managed via Kubernetes. If you are not software defined - you will never reach these levels and if you are an appliance, you can forget about it.
  • The cloud-native world co-optimizes for performance and scale. This is a cloud-native thing. Most legacy technologies optimize for one or the other. The cloud-native world seeks to deliver performance at scale. SAN and NAS vendors are perfect examples. Some can deliver performance - but few deliver scale. None deliver both.
  • The cloud-native world is automated. We talked about RESTful APIs above, but the concept of automation runs deep in the cloud-native world and the cloud-native elite expects the ability to automate at will. HTTPS/RESTful API is the basic method of communication between applications in the Kubernetes world. For example Istio and Envoy manage the service discovery and routing based on RESTful API endpoints. Traditional SAN/NAS systems don’t fit this model - their proprietary tools intentionally don’t integrate with open standards.
  • If there is a glue category for the cloud-native, it is maintainability - the ability to manage massive infrastructure with just a handful (or even just a couple to manage across time zones) people. The cloud-native elite value this highly and seek other companies that can provide this. You can either put one person in charge of a multi-tenant, peta-scale, object storage as a service instance or you can’t. If the aforementioned needs a team of six to look after security, network, drive, CPU, resilience, SLAs, downtime, upgrades etc, then that solution is not “maintainable” to cloud-native companies. That functionality needs to be operationally efficient, manageable, transparent and simple - without sacrificing control or granularity.

Here’s another thing worth noting - the cloud native world increasingly eschews formal business partnerships for engineering partnerships. Devs drive the bus in the cloud-native world - not business development teams. MinIO has formal partnerships with only a handful of the companies it is integrated with. We, like much of the cloud-native elite, are open source (GNU AGPL v3). A partnership is needed for OEM purposes - but not to create an integration, a tutorial, or documentation. These things happen organically, without friction and in a tiny fraction of the time it takes to establish  “traditional” partnerships between proprietary vendors. This is why being truly software-defined matters - because you have a download button on your website.

The result is an ecosystem that has its own, very powerful gravitational pull. The more players and technologies it has, the stronger that pull. It is only getting stronger.
Download MinIO and join the cloud-native elite.

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