Many throats to choke: For better or worse, multiple clouds are here to stay

In information technology circles, it’s called “one throat to choke.”It’s a metaphor for chief information officers’ preference for concentrating most of their business with a single strategic supplier in each category of application and infrastructure. The approach has a lot of appeal to risk-averse IT organizations, including fewer points of failure, better customer service, bigger discounts and clearer strategic direction.

It also gives birth to superpower companies that come to dominate their markets by virtue of being the safe choice. Giants such as Cisco Systems Inc. in networking, Oracle Corp. in database, Microsoft Corp. in desktop software and EMC Corp. in storage all rose out of the brutal scrum that characterizes the early years of nearly every emerging technology market.

Multiple Cloud

“The leader makes money, number two is lucky to break even and number three – well it’s not even worth staying in business,” said David Vellante, chief analyst at SiliconANGLE sister company Wikibon. For the most part, CIOs are fine with that. Dominant suppliers simplify decisions and carve paths that others follow.

But when it comes to cloud computing infrastructure, that pattern hasn’t repeated itself. The biggest platform providers – including Amazon Web Services Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Google LLC — are getting bigger, and none is a shoo-in for CIOs’ business, and certainly not on an exclusive basis.

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