- LinkedIn will embark on a multiyear migration to the public cloud by porting its existing infrastructure to Microsoft Azure, the company announced Tuesday.
- News of a full-on move to the public cloud comes three years after Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. The company, which operates a community of 645 million professionals, currently leverages some of Azure's capabilities, which run on several colocated data centers.
- The move from LinkedIn is aimed at scaling the company's infrastructure ahead of "the next stage of LinkedIn’s growth," according to Mohak Shroff, senior VP of Engineering at LinkedIn, in a blog post announcing the update.
LinkedIn's selection of a hyperscaler means it will need to phase out its data centers as the primary source of computing power.
Like most other digital native companies, LinkedIn weighed its options carefully in search of a fail-free strategy, and opted for a public-cloud infrastructure, said Suranjan Chatterjee, global head of cloud apps, microservices and API-fication at Tata Consultancy Services.
Initially the company had created and managed its own infrastructure based on co-located data centers.
But companies ultimately base their cloud decisions on two key factors: A fear of slowing down the innovation cycle and the cost of existing infrastructure investments in data centers, Chatterjee said.
That said, LinkedIn was not wooed to move to Azure. Microsoft sales team had not pitched LinkedIn, said Shroff, in an interview with VentureBeat. Similarly to Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, an Azure customer at the time of the acquisition, Microsoft did not require a migration to its cloud as part of the acquisition.
Instead, the driving force for the decision were the use cases LinkedIn could expand on after migrating. The company plans to expand its use of the cloud for video post-delivery, AI-driven translation in the Feed and content moderation.
With transitions like these, companies like LinkedIn can end up viewing migration as a simple tech conversion, rather than a standalone strategy. Chatterjee warns the company should watch out for:
- A lack of business impact of cloud migration. "The expectation [often] is business should alter its ways to make way for cloud, which almost never happens," Chatterjee said.
- Difficulties in balancing the cloud migration and modernization processes.
- Ignoring the talent and change management aspects of cloud migration, which can mean losing critical talent on the way to cloud.
This story has been updated with additional language to clarify LinkedIn's public cloud strategy.