Google vet’s move to Snapchat raises specter of (gasp!) non-cloud deployment

Nothing raises the hackles of a cloud provider more than the slightest notion that a customer might move more of its precious IT load back in house. After all, if cloud isn’t more economical than an internal data center it’s a much harder sale, no?

The latest manifestation of this anxiety is Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal story on the departure of Google Distinguished Engineer Peter Magnusson — who helped build and run Google App Engine — to Snapchat, one of GAE’s largest and most heavily publicized customers.

The Journal said one of Magnusson’s new duties “will be building technology infrastructure in-house so that the company can begin to lessen its reliance on partners like Google.” That statement, although not a direct quote, was attributed to Snapchat co-founder and VP of engineering Bobby Murphy; and you had to know it got Google’s attention. It certainly raised my eyebrows. Saying that Snapchat would lessen its dependence on Google is sort of like saying Netflix(s nflx) might lessen its dependence on Amazon Web Services(s amzn).

Magnusson quickly issued a clarification/correction in a comment to the story, denying that Murphy said any such thing. Magnusson wrote:

“A more correct statement is that we’ll continuously evaluate alternatives, and likely over time develop more infrastructure ourselves, in particular in specialized areas of our apps. Google is a great partner, and the success of Snapchat would simply not have been possible without Google Cloud, and we expect to work closely together. Period”

And that is what could be called a non-denial denial. He really just reiterated what Murphy said/didn’t say but in a way that’s more palatable to Google.

Look, no company worth its salt ever stops evaluating new deployment options and using those that make the most sense. And (sorry cloud players) there are times when deploying IT internally or at a colocated data center is cheaper than the cloud alternative— especially when workloads are stable and not spiky.

So don’t be surprised if and when Snapchat starts mixing and matching more on-premises technology with cloud going forward. And, if you’re interested in the topic of when to go cloud and when maybe not, hit up our Structure conference in June. Google cloud SVP Urs Hölzle and AWS CTO Werner Vogels will both be on hand.