Cloud-based 3D print management service 3DPrinterOS announced they’ve moved their processing to Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.
Most startup companies don’t actually have their own computing infrastructure; instead they make use of cloud-based “infrastructure” that provides an easy means to rapidly scale up and down, by simply buying more cloud resources, or less.
It’s now a massive business, led by Amazon’s AWS platform, which I’m told is now bringing in a spectacular USD$2.4B per year in revenue, and is one of Amazon’s “prime” sources of cash. But they’re not alone: there are several competitors in the field, most notably Google, which provides similar cloud processing capabilities, and Microsoft’s Azure platform. However, it’s my understanding that Amazon provides the most advanced features of all services today.
Back to 3DPrinterOS. They’ve chosen to use Azure as the platform behind the scenes that drives the countless set-top boxes running local portion of 3DPrinterOS that connects to each 3D printer.
While I’m certain that Azure is a capable platform, it’s curious to me that it was chosen over Amazon or Google. According to 3DPrinterOS CEO John Dogru:
It was a challenge to find the right company that had the cloud infrastructure, compliance, security, and reliability around the world including countries like China and Europe.
Ok, sounds reasonable. But wait, would not such capabilities also be done by Amazon and Google? Curious.
I’m speculating here, but maybe there’s more to this story. There’s one thing that Microsoft has that Amazon and Google do not: a very strong interest in 3D printing.
Microsoft was one of the driving forces behind the 3MF initiative to attempt to standardize 3D printing file formats and protocols. They also included 3D printing features in their Windows OS used by many people, particularly those in industry.
And now they have a 3DPrinterOS running on their infrastructure.
A service that can drive prints directly to thousands of participating 3D printers. Curiouser.
Maybe I’m wrong, but this arrangement just seems to suggest that 3DPrintOS might become a target for acquisition by Microsoft: at first glance it appears they would fit very well into Microsoft’s 3D printing ambitions, as they provide a number of services not presently available in Microsoft’s environment. It would also permit Microsoft to grab a big piece of the current 3D printing activity.
Or maybe I’ve got it entirely wrong, but at least it’s fun to speculate.