The Beatles or the Rolling Stones? LeBron James or Steph Curry? Muhammad Ali or Floyd Mayweather? And while we’re at it: best-of-breed or single-vendor/integrated-stack?

Classic debates. Myself, I prefer the Beatles, Steph, and Ali. As for best-of-breed versus single-vendor, I’ll confess that over my 30-year career I’ve been known to argue for both sides, but these days I’m increasingly in the corner of best-of-breed. I’ll go further and say: It’s not even a fair fight any more. With the rise of the cloud, best-of-breed is now more attractive—and easier to implement—than ever. 

Best-of-breed is increasingly distinct and compelling

In the cloud, the delta in capabilities and performance between best-of-breed versus the single-stack option are considerable. The big public cloud providers have distinct strengths and characteristics that make it highly attractive to choose multiple public clouds based on desired use cases.

Microsoft Azure, for example, is often seen as the obvious choice for enterprises running Microsoft-centric applications. For analyzing big data, an organization might choose Amazon or Google depending on its specific needs. A by Cowen & Co. found (not too surprisingly) that Amazon Web Services is the clear leader, Microsoft Azure is a strong No. 2, and that Google and IBM are grabbing more workloads, while offering above-average IT support.

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Best-of-breed helps mitigate against lockin

Generally speaking, the major cloud providers are not putting a lot of effort into helping you work easily with other cloud providers. In fact, it can sometimes seem like they’re explicitly working to lock you in. A is a great hedge against lockin. It gives you negotiating power if your vendor suddenly changes strategy, pricing, or SLAs. It also gives you access to a varied set of cloud capabilities and pricing models, each of which will be a better fit for specific applications you need to run.

Whatever your current situation—whether you’re on-premises, hybrid cloud, or multicloud—your ultimate destination should most assuredly be multicloud and best-of-breed. And if you’re not there already, you’d better start planning for that future now.

Old barriers are falling away

Best-of-breed used to be a lot more intimidating to implement and manage. Before the cloud, integrated suites simply worked better and were easier to install and maintain. Today’s open, cloud-first world has changed all of that.