Should Your Organization Use a Hyperscaler Cloud Provider?

Moving to a cloud hyperscaler shouldn't be viewed as a conventional procurement process. Decide on your cloud objectives and target your approach before committing to a provider.

John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author

June 3, 2024

5 Min Read
cloud computing technology
Sasin Paraksa via Alamy Stock Photo

A hyperscaler is a cloud service provider with a massive network of data centers offering a wide array of services. "These providers cater to the needs of enterprises with substantial user bases," says Richard Buehler, a consultant at technology research and advisory firm ISG, in an email interview. "They dominate the cloud market due to their extensive infrastructure and comprehensive service offerings." 

Hyperscaler cloud providers offer access to an infrastructure that would be impractical or impossible for most enterprises to build and maintain internally, observes Anil Inamdar, global head of data services at Instaclustr, a provider of open-source databases and other applications delivered as a service. "Their global presence and redundant data centers ensure high availability and low latency for workloads deployed across multiple regions," he says via email. 

Top Adopters 

Major enterprises with large-scale, dynamic computing needs requiring virtually unlimited scalability are most likely to become hyperscaler cloud customers. "Businesses with more modest requirements may find hyperscaler offerings more complex and costly than necessary, compared to other cloud options," Inamdar says. For such enterprises, a hybrid cloud strategy will allow them to leverage the scalability and advanced services provided by the hyperscalers while still maintaining certain workloads and data in on-premises private clouds. "Additionally, enterprise strategies that combine third parties, like cloud storage and data management providers, often play a key role in enabling a cohesive hybrid cloud experience with hyperscalers." 

Related:What Happens When You Want to Leave the Cloud?

Hyperscaler adopters are often attracted to the approach by the possibility of avoiding upfront capital requirements or funding delays. "There's no need to procure and install physical hardware and supporting resources," explains Thomas Wold, technical director, digital strategy and transformation, with Presidio, a managed services and network solutions provider, via email. "Meanwhile, partner integrations provide agility and allow organizations to deliver on business objectives at a higher velocity than traditional data center/self-hosting models." 

Top Providers 

Buehler's picks for top hyperscalers are Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, IBM Cloud, and Oracle. 

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS): AWS was the first on the market and continues to dominate, providing around 40% of globally available hyperscaler capacity. Their extensive service offerings cover everything from compute and storage to machine learning and analytics. 

  • Microsoft Azure: Microsoft's Azure platform is a strong contender, offering a wide range of services. With an operational data center capacity of 2,176 megawatts in 2022, Azure is a major player. 

  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP): Google's cloud services are known for their innovation and scalability. GCP had an operational data center capacity of 2,480 MW in 2022. 

  • IBM Cloud: IBM provides large-scale solutions and has a significant presence in the hyperscale market. Their services cater to enterprises with diverse needs. 

  • Oracle: Oracle offers cloud solutions and runs its own applications within its hyperscaler cloud. They focus on database services, enterprise applications, and infrastructure. 

Related:5 Factors Making Hyperscale Environments a Prime Target for Security Challenges

Understand the pricing structure before committing to any hyperscaler, Buehler advises. "Look for transparency, flexibility, and any hidden costs." 

Potential Pitfalls 

Vendor lock-in is perhaps the biggest hyperscaler pitfall. "Relying too heavily on a single hyperscaler can make it difficult to move workloads and data between clouds in the future," Inamdar warns. Proprietary services and tight integrations with a particular hyperscaler cloud provider's ecosystem can also lead to lock-in challenges. 

Related:AWS CEO Selipsky Bows Out as Cloud Giant Names Successor

Cost management also requires close scrutiny. "Hyperscalers’ pay-as-you-go models can lead to unexpected or runaway costs if usage isn't carefully monitored and controlled," Inamdar cautions. "The massive scale of hyperscaler cloud providers also means that costs can quickly accumulate for large workloads." 

Security and compliance are additional concerns. "While hyperscalers invest heavily in security, the shared responsibility model means customers must still properly configure and secure their cloud environments," Inamdar says. "Compliance with regulatory requirements across regions can also be complex when using global hyperscaler cloud providers." 

On the positive side, hyperscaler availability and durability levels exceed almost every enterprise's requirements and capabilities, Wold says. "As an example, blob storage services, a foundational component for all providers, are designed to deliver with 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability," he notes. "This translates to less than an hour of down time per year, or a potential loss of one file for every 100 billion stored." 

Seeking Seamless Portability 

Regardless of the hyperscaler selected, cloud portability should always be smooth and easy. "Enterprises need their applications and workloads to run seamlessly across any of the major cloud hyperscalers and private clouds, and in their own on-prem environments," Inamdar says. "Getting this right means flexibly harnessing the most powerful and beneficial infrastructure." 

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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