The Battle for Cloud Shifts to Applications and Analytics from Infrastructure

If you have followed my blog you will know that I have a view that might not align to the broader view. Such is the life of an analyst. Some years ago I recognized that Oracle’s cloud strategy was never going to hinge on its ability to dominate infrastructure.

Source: The Battle for Cloud Shifts to Applications and Analytics from Infrastructure

It’s strategy was going to hinge on its ability to move its database business to the cloud and more generally the shift in business applications to the cloud.  By business applications, I don’t mean email or file sharing – while they are “business applications” they are hygiene apps.  They add general capabilities and are not a source of innovation or competitiveness.

Back in 2017 I wrote the following blog: The Battle for the Cloud Has Not Even Started Yet.  This was the blog that clarified in my mind, due to a 1-1 meeting with a CIO of a large organization in Australia (back when we were allowed to travel), why the press was wrong to assume the cloud wars had been won by Amazon and Google based on their cloud computing platform and Oracle was being pilloried for focusing on its applications and database.  My thinking evolved and following blog was posted: How to Talk Cloud to Business Leaders, part 2.


The framework in this blog was as response to how the market was defining cloud – SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS, and was totally not getting/missing DaaS.  Data as a Service is a kind of software akin to SaaS but it can also be delivered in composable components so it can also be delivered via PaaS.  But it is different since what is provided is data and analytics, not transactions or workflow or business processes.  It is sufficiently different in that it is about competitive differentiation that it should be called out explicitly.  Few really care about this, interestingly.

It so happened that recently things have started to change.  In 2020 SAP was caught focusing on infrastructure and so I posted this blog: The Cloud Wars – Finally?   This week even more interesting news emerged – Amazon’s new AWS leader is going to be Adam Selipsky, the current Salesforce-owned Tableau CEO.  This sends a clear signal – business applications, and maybe even analytics (possibly data too) might be more important to AWS going forward than infrastructure.  This importance was so obvious back in 2017.

The idea that what an organization actually does (its business processes, its decision making prowess) is more important than the infrastructure on which it runs it’s software is finally coming due.  But here’s the thing: Once you realize the battle of the cloud will shift from infrastructure to business applications, and you think through the implication, you will realize the ultimate prize is NOT the business applications.  The ultimate prize is data: The Battle for the Digital Economy Ultimately Rests Not with the Cloud, but with Data.  When did I write this blog?  2017.  The question I have would be this: Does Salesforce and Tableau really understand data in all its glory?  Acquiring Mulesoft would suggest they have some ideas but those are still quite short and narrow…