Cloud customer win chatter escalates: Wooing Workday

HP trumpets that Workday is a cloud customer. That statement, however, doesn't mean that Workday bolted from AWS. The reality is that IT buyers will arbitrage public cloud providers without much brand loyalty.

Quite a kerfuffle has broken out over what cloud services Workday is using. Why? Public cloud players---Amazon Web Services, Google, HP, Rackspace etc.---want big name customer references. The catch: While a company like HP can trumpet a cloud win over AWS, the reality is most customers will spread around their infrastructure bets.


Bottom line: Calling a company a cloud customer isn't nearly as big of a deal as noting an ERP deployment.

The whole Workday public cloud scrum kicked off last week at HP's Discover conference. Bill Veghte, chief operating officer at HP, reportedly said in a keynote that Workday is moving from AWS to HP Cloud due to better service level agreements. CRN reported the news. HP has become a big Workday customer so an infrastructure as a service move wouldn't be too surprising.

However, AWS has said that Workday is a happy customer. Here's the statement:

Workday is not moving its cloud operations from AWS to HP. They remain an active and happy AWS customer and our relationship with them continues to deepen.

Workday also told GigaOm that it's a happy AWS customer.

Take all of these public cloud "wins" with a huge grain of salt. Why? It's highly likely that all enterprises will use multiple cloud infrastructure providers. The promise of OpenStack is that you can hop between cloud providers. Ultimately, the decision to move across the likes of HP, AWS and Rackspace will be automated. Algorithms will find the lower costs for the workloads necessary and pick one. The price and performance will matter. The brand loyalty won't.

In other words, cloud infrastructure players are in a race to the bottom. Google, which can sell its cloud services via its enterprise sales team, will compete with AWS. Neither company is going to sweat margins since both have crazy scale. HP, Rackspace and others will offer more services and support. In the end, enterprises will mix and match cloud providers. The idea that a customer will standardize on one cloud stack---especially for commodity infrastructure---is a joke. Rest assured that at some point Google may be touting a Workday win too. If Workday---or any other IT buyer---is smart it will be arbitraging the hell out of all of them.

Meanwhile, Workday also appears to have co-location deals for its own data centers. In Workday's regulatory filings, the company noted:

We host our applications and serve all of our customers from data centers located in Ashburn, Virginia; Lithia Springs, Georgia; Portland, Oregon; Dublin, Ireland; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. While we control and have access to our servers and all of the components of our network that are located in our external data centers, we do not control the operation of these facilities. The owners of our data center facilities have no obligation to renew their agreements with us on commercially reasonable terms, or at all. If we are unable to renew these agreements on commercially reasonable terms, or if one of our data center operators is acquired, we may be required to transfer our servers and other infrastructure to new data center facilities, and we may incur significant costs and possible service interruption in connection with doing so.

Many of those locations mentioned appear to line up with AWS regions. The exception is Lithia Springs, Georgia, which is about 44 miles from an HP hub in Alpharetta. Workday also noted:

We have committed to make significant investments in our data center infrastructure in the current fiscal year as we update our technology and plan for future customer growth.

You see Workday resembles a lot of IT buyers. It'll have multiple data center and cloud moving parts.