WhatsApp leaves IBM’s SoftLayer cloud for Facebook data center

If you keep up with technology news, you’ve been hearing a lot lately about how enterprises are moving more and more key workloads from their own on-premise data centers to the public cloud. In fact, it happens so much that even the biggest transitions are hardly news anymore. 

Man bites dog?

What does make people pay attention, though, is when the opposite happens: When a major product or service moves from running in the public cloud to an on-premise data center. And that’s exactly what happened last week when CNBC broke the news that Facebook plans to move its WhatsApp service from IBM’s SoftLayer public cloud service to its proprietary data centers.

This is indeed a big deal in some ways, but not for the reasons you might think.

Most of the coverage played up the angle that this is a competitive blow for IBM, losing what was reportedly once one of its five biggest cloud customers spending $2 million per month. And, sure, in the short term, losing a high-profile whale like WhatsApp—used by 1.2 billion people around the world—certainly won’t help IBM in its cloud wars with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

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