Last week, Walmart announced it had developed its own cloud infrastructure (made possible partially by the company’s purchase of startup OneOps over a year ago). While the company could have easily bought an existing cloud solution instead, it chose to develop its own because the unique solution it needed to suit its dynamic retail environment did not yet exist.
Walmart said it will also open-source the cloud technology it built, making it freely available to anyone. They did so to help other companies avoid “vendor lock-in,” which occurs when companies sign on with big cloud vendors and then find themselves locked into a solution and thus prevented from making changes or customizing. The OneOps solution allows Walmart to “move applications, databases or entire cloud environments from one cloud provider to another so as to take advantage of better offers.”
Target dives into DevOps
Last week, Target announced it is moving away from outsourcing and rebuilding its internal IT capabilities. In March, the company said it would spend $1 billion on technology such as DevOps in 2015 as part of an effort to move to a more agile way of developing and testing applications. The company also recently created Dojo, an internal incubator environment to teach employees how to work in a DevOps model.
Meanwhile, several businesses in niche markets like banking and retail, including Bank of America Corp., Equifax and Walgreens, are also producing tech products to fit their needs. Equifax patented a system for monitoring child identity theft and Walgreens won a patent for integrating pharmacy and health data. Meanwhile, Bank of America has increased its efforts to win patents in the last five years. In 2014, according to data from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the company received 232 patents, many of which are tech-oriented.
DIY in technology
As big companies like Walmart and Target delve deeper into the business of technology, invest in learning new technologies, purchase strategic startups and hire innovative CIOs, the movement toward “do it yourself” technology may be on the rise. Some companies may even turn those new technologies into new sources of profit for themselves.
What could this mean for existing technology companies, particularly cloud companies, which are reporting huge profits right now? (In July, Amazon.com announced that revenue from Amazon Web Services nearly doubled in the second quarter, while total cloud IT infrastructure spending is expected to reach $33.4 billion this year, according to IDC.)
The bottom line is, as the technology world evolves and “every company becomes a tech company,” traditional tech providers may find they need to evolve or expire. If they can’t give businesses the cloud and other solutions they need, businesses increasingly can and will pass them up altogether. And that also means allowing companies some flexibility rather than locking them into proprietary, inflexible solutions.
“Developers and cloud users know the upside of operating in the cloud -– flexibility, scalability, speed, etc.," said Jeremy King, CTO of Walmart global e-commerce and head of @WalmartLabs, and Tim Kimmet, vice president of platform and systems for @WalmartLabs, in a recent blog. "Unfortunately, too many have discovered the biggest downside… being locked in to the cloud provider you start with."