What if we treated food like we treat developer services?

We all have that one friend who will do whatever it takes to uncover the newest soon-to-be-trendy restaurant. But, if you ask the foodie in your life what drives them, they’ll rarely tell you it’s simply about taste.

 Discovery and choice are equally as important to the foodie experience.

Now, imagine a world where these choices are non-existent, and the only restaurants are a burger joint, a burrito stand and a noodle shop. Sure, boiling the options down to three places might simplify our lives, but it would also cheapen them by stopping us from exploring a world filled with deep fried Oreos, hamburger tapas, and gourmet grilled cheese.

While this may be a slightly dramatic, if not Orwellian, vision of a distant parallel universe, it’s not far off from the state of developer services today. The big box cloud vendors (Amazon, Google and Microsoft) are doing all they can to keep developers in their walled gardens and make it hard for them to ever break out. Collectively, they control over 50 percent of the cloud infrastructure market, with AWS commanding a remarkable 44 percent market share (Gartner).

This cloud oligarchy forces developers to sacrifice quality and performance in exchange for cost and convenience. As long as these mono-clouds reign supreme, the interests of everyday developers will take a back seat.

What happens when only three companies shape the future of the most significant technological development since the internet?

We can’t afford to find out.

What should the cloud service ecosystem look like?

Within the confines of Amazon, Microsoft and Google, multi-cloud is a four letter word. Unfortunately for them, the broader technology community has largely accepted that our future is multi-cloud. And, more importantly, the community understands that is the way it should be.

So what is taking developers so long to reach a similar multi-cloud epiphany? Nothing. Developers are a savvy bunch, and they understand the proverbial “deal with the devil” which is being made whenever they decide to base their entire project on one of the mono-clouds. But, there is currently no infrastructure in place to allow them to have their cake and eat it too.

Sure, they can reach outside the walled gardens, but this creates a huge management headache, draining resources they would save by building their application on a one-size-fits-all cloud like AWS. Or, developers can prioritize the quality of their product and services above all else and build their applications with the best tools available, regardless of which side of the wall they’re on. Except this can lead to increased cost and complexity. Neither of these options are ideal for the pragmatic minds that gravitate towards software development.

These problems are exacerbated by the growing complexity of the modern development stack. We need an easy way to discover and manage the mix of services needed to create modern applications without accepting the constraints of one of the cloud giants. Without this, developer freedom and creativity will be stifled and the opportunity for innovative service providers to reinvent the way we build applications will be diminished.

Microservices and architectures like it are changing the very nature of programming, and provide us an opportunity to shift how the entire market operates. Similar to the way that Steam advanced an entirely new category of games by connecting a community of enthusiasts to indie game creators (think about the massive success of Goat Simulator), the dev services industry is primed for a similar disruptive moment.

We have already seen an emerging village of highly-vertical cloud services rising just outside of the walled gardens. Startups like Graphcool, Netlify, DNSimple and Mailgun, to name a few, have managed to create avid communities centered around extremely specific problems, without bending the knee to the top of the cloud hierarchy.

 In a world where developers find, manage and connect third-party services as easily as they do open-source libraries, everyone wins.

In a world where developers find, manage and connect third-party services as easily as they do open-source libraries, everyone wins. We build better experiences, because we have highly-tailored tools that support us while we build the parts of our product that matter most. This makes community stronger, as startups with limited resources, let alone a marketing budget, gain the ability to build competitive products for developers. An open, cloud-agnostic ecosystem, lets developers go back to doing what they do best, solving the worlds problems one line of code at a time.

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