Azure is Wal-Mart and that’s OK

By Danielle Arad - January 10, 2015
2 min read

It was big, bad news for many when Azure went down for 11 hours in November. And it was good news for the IT industry, and cloud consumers, when they published a teardown of the incident.

Azure is changing the discussion this week, from availability to features: Security, the “G” Series VMs, and initial support for Docker. It’s the right PR move, and it’s honest.

Why Don’t You Buy Everything at Wal Mart

Wal-Mart, Cost-Co and other “hyper-scale” providers stock goods in nearly every category, and often at a competitive price. Azure and AWS aspire to this cost/breadth combination. And that’s a good thing for many consumers and small providers.

As a “hyper-scale” provider, Azure doesn’t need to win November, a use-case or a category. They are Wal-Mart, and they’ll win with real estate, price and breadth. As Mckinsey’s Small Business Cloud whitepaper explains:

“While many think of Wal-Mart as retail’s dominant force, the company maintains a share of only about 13 percent of the heavily fragmented space. Why? Because Wal-Mart cannot be all things to all people – it provides an offering to customers that seek strong value; customers that are looking for high-fashion or luxury merchandise will naturally turn to retailers better suited to provide those goods.”

Just like retail, “cloud” may seem dominated by AWS, Google and Azure, but the reality is that tailored services like CloudShare are not only thriving – they lead with user-focused innovation.

Focus on Compute and Cost vs. Focus on Users

CloudShare builds for end users: live classroom management, an API that make real-world CI possible with a few days work, and continuing attention to a UI that simplifies lab management.

“Hyper-Scale” providers build data centers, focusing on compute cost first, breadth second, and users last. At scale, there is a clear business reason for this — lower compute cost for IaaS is a very compelling cost saver:


But for end users of IaaS — IT managers, trainers, developers and engineers — the motivation to move to the cloud is not cost reduction or a shift from capex to opex. While that is certainly nice to have, their pain goes beyond servers. It’s software installs, licensing, networking, and patching for needy users.

And that is where CloudShare provides a huge benefit. The costs savings of IaaS plus the savings of software installs plus lab and server management plus the ability to fail and revert, means that more of the total cost is covered and much the pain is relieved:


“Hyper-scale” providers will continue to drive the hosting costs down with land buys, partner pressure and data center innovation. But for consumer of the cloud, user-focused tools like CloudShare will work on the rest of it: Implementation, Software, Automation of IT work, and more.