Walmart cracks open its OneOps cloud platform to everyone to save developers from evil Amazon vendor lock-in
Walmart, the US retail giant and parent company of the Asda in the UK, is taking a beating from its great rival Amazon.
Shares fell 10 percent this week following news that the company will grow just 3-4 percent over the next three years, with profit dropping 12 percent in 2017. Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Charles Holley blamed this rising wages, and the increased cost of training staff. It’s not until 2019, he said, that revenue will grow again.
Compare these figures to Amazon, which has had shares rocketing more than 75 percent in 2015, and it’s clear to see that Walmart is struggling to keep up with its online competitor.
Of course, Walmart is still bigger than Amazon in terms of revenue, but after 18 years of service, Amazon.com’s market value stands at $254.8 billion (£165bn). Walmart this week managed to wipe more than $21 billion (£13.6bn) off its value, down to $213.9 billion (£138.3bn).
The fight back
One way in which Walmart is planning to stay afloat amidst intense competition, and to keep up to date with technology trends, is to crack open its OneOps cloud computing code so that anyone can use, effectively making it open source.
OneOps is Walmart’s very own cloud platform, with the company claiming it changed the way its engineers developed and helped shaped how Walmart launched new products to customers.This week WalmartLabs said OneOps will be released to the world as open source, with the source code being uploaded to code repository GitHub by the end of the 2015.
By making the cloud platform open source, Walmart is taking the fight to Amazon Web Services by giving developers a chance to avoid vendor lock-in, a situation in which companies are stuck to contracts and technologies supplied by one cloud provider.
Walmart said that the move should increase competition between cloud service vendors. Reading between the lines, this is a swing at Amazon.
“We’re enabling any organisation to achieve the same cloud portability and developer benefits that Walmart has enjoyed,”said Jeremy King, CTO of Walmart Global eCommerce and head of WalmartLabs.
King added that by making the platform open source, OneOps will drive competitors to “compete based on price, customer service and innovation”.
Suffering from vendor lock-in is something that Walmart calls the “Hotel California Effect”, that is, being a prisoner of your own device. Walmart said that it has now broken free of these shackles, and soon, so will over denizens of the cloud. The move not only gives cloud platform (AWS) customers the chance to shop around, but also beefs up Walmart’s authority as a technology provider.
Even so, it is likely this announcement will have negligible effect on AWS. The cloud giant this quarter surpassed revenues of $7 billion (£4.5bn), and offers hundreds of cloud-based services to thousands upon thousands of customers.
It’s hard to see a customer even worrying about vendor lock-in by Amazon in the near future, as the company provides such a wide breadth of services that there will be no need to shop somewhere else for public cloud.
Walmart argues that OneOps has four main advantages: cloud portability, continuous lifecycle management, faster innovation, and great abstraction of cloud environtments. On the last, Walmart really hammers home its take on openness in the cloud.
“Greater abstraction of cloud environments puts the control back into the hands of developers, instead of cloud providers, who often dictate the proprietary APIs, architecture, tools and technologies developers have to use,” said King.