Over the last few years, Etsy was something of a stalwart supporter when it came to the virtues of maintaining one’s own computing infrastructure, but it has changed its mind.
Over the next two years, Google Cloud will be responsible for the computing infrastructure that supports the craft marketplace, the two companies announced Thursday. “Moving to Google Cloud Platform is a transformational change for Etsy,” said CTO Mike Fisher in the release.
He’s not kidding. Two years ago, right before Etsy went public, the company gave a detailed overview of its homegrown computing infrastructure to The Next Platform. One obvious factor in Etsy’s reliance on its own compute hardware was timing, as it became a company a few months before Amazon Web Services was a thing, but even long after AWS had established itself did Etsy believe it could still get better performance because it understood how to feed its predicable workloads. (It did use the S3 cloud storage service from AWS for some image hosting.)
Something changed in the interim. Fisher joined Etsy in July, and it seems one of his first priorities was moving Etsy onto a cloud platform. He previewed the Google announcement in an interview with The Architect Show earlier this month, emphasizing that Etsy was going to get much more serious about its use of machine learning tools.
That’s certainly an argument for Google Cloud, given the company’s strength in machine learning and artificial intelligence services in general. But there’s another one: in October Amazon introduced its Handmade Gift Shop, going right after Etsy’s bread and butter with its own online craft store.
Etsy’s stock went down three percent that day, and it has now joined a growing list of retail operations that are placing their cloud bets with AWS competitors. Target has reportedly begun the process of shifting away from AWS, and grocery store giant Kroger announced in November that it will use a combination of Google and Microsoft Azure as it rolls out a cloud computing strategy.