Today hell did not freeze over, but something remarkable happened: Microsoft and AWS announced they are working on a project together.
Project Gluon is an open-source, deep learning project for building, deploying and managing machine learning models. It’s worth noting that AWS and Microsoft compete fiercely in the cloud market. In fact, they each have artificial intelligence toolkits they are trying to sell customers, yet, in this instance, they saw it in their mutual best interest to work together instead of competing.
That my friends is the power of the cloud at work. It forces companies that once barricaded themselves behind proprietary stacks to work together in spite of themselves. Surely, they would rather not sleep with the enemy, but when being frenemies is in the best interest of both parties, apparently they are willing to do it.
We’ve seen some strange alliances in the cloud before. Remember when Microsoft and Salesforce joined forces just a couple of years after suing each other? That was an odd couple, for sure. The relationship may have cooled a bit since Satya Nadella appeared onstage at Salesforce’s Dreamforce Conference in 2015, but the two companies continue to work together when it makes sense for customers.
And in the cloud it’s all about the customers. Just yesterday at BoxWorks, Box’s annual customer conference, there was Aaron Levie onstage with Scott Guthrie, Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group at Microsoft, all joking and chummy and announcing how well the two product sets work together.
It’s easy to forget that Box made its name in 2009 with billboards on Route 101 in California announcing how much better Box was than Microsoft SharePoint. Levie made a point of slaying Microsoft whenever he could. Yet here we are today and the two are onstage together, and the companies work quite closely with one another now.
The cloud has a funny way of driving companies together, because it’s all about the customer in the cloud. The subscription model forces vendors to put customers first — and they demand interoperability with their tools.
The days of going to a company for a single stack of software are gone. Companies may use Salesforce for CRM, Microsoft Office 365 for their office suite, Box for content management and AWS for cloud infrastructure — and they want it all working together without a lot of fussing and expense.
That could be why AWS and Microsoft teamed up on machine learning frameworks today. Simply because it makes sense for their customers… and if it makes sense for the customers, they are going to do it — whether deep down they really want to or not.