AWS is holding their kickoff to the, by now, traditional worldwide AWS Summit conference tour. And similar to last year's tour, Amazon kicked the event series off in San Francisco. Given that the April timing is almost half a year away from AWS’s yearly re-invent conference in Las Vegas, it is a key update time for AWS. And a key update time it was – with almost as many press release and blog posts as re-invent, quite a challenge to sort through the news. 

So here are my top 3 takeaways

Amazon Machine Learning – ‘True’ analytics are a key characteristic of modern, next generation applications (more here) that developers are looking at cloud providers to enable them to build. Google had an early lead in this area, but Microsoft and now Amazon are catching up. The Analytics space has been transformed fundamentally in the last 3-5 years in the aftermath of the Netflix competition. Instead of using the same analytical model for their professional life time – as it was pretty much practice in the age of constraint based computing – data scientists now need to ‘thrash’ models with as much compute as the next generation application can get hold on, on as much data one can afford to store. And the most affordable storage and compute capacities – right in the cloud. So really no surprise that Amazon is propagating machine learning. The vendor shared that over 50B predictions are already being made in AWS today – before all the new help Amazon is now providing to developers to build analytical applications. And analytic application are a great complimentary product for cloud providers – use spot pricing for special modelling needs and it equally motivates to store and keep more data stored in the cloud. Who knows if some data that looks discard able today may be key tomorrow? As long as it is affordable, the data will be kept around and analytical models will go back to and leverage the data over and over again. Amazon has done well at understanding this trend and is a in a very good position to leverage a large number of these next generation applications. 

The Amazon platform emerges – My key takeaways from re-invent 2014 was that AWS is becoming a platform – and it has to become a platform to long term compete with IBM’s, Microsoft’s and Oracle’s cloud platforms. Amazon needs to attract and keep developers, as whenever the traditional platform vendors are ready with their respective cloud based platforms, they will attract a large number of applications that have been built on their on-premise platforms. So Amazon becomes a platform for next generation applications, and is in the process with that creating the usual and customary platform tie in all platforms have. Something to be aware of when making cloud platform decisions, but something we see most vendors and enterprises happily take as a tradeoff. And along the Amazon platform product strategy there were a number of key announcements:
  • Amazon Elastic File (EFS) System – A modern platform needs access to files and storage. If the platform is in the cloud and modern applications are being built on it – it needs the ability to bring the data to the applications. EFS is a key step by Amazon to allow enterprise to store all the data they want and need in the cloud, with all the benefits of the cloud – pay for use, scale up and down etc. It is SSD based – so will be fast, and replicates across AZs – so it is likely to be better than many storage solutions that run onsite, and probably cheaper (Amazon said it would be 30 cents / GB / month). Storage is a key component for a next generation platform and good to see Amazon adding this to the product family.
  • Amazon EC2 Container Service – And when you have the data, you need to run services on it, ideally micro services and of course Docker. Amazon’s container services allows the next step of controlling and scaling those services easier for developers, a key challenge and on the flipside when solved – a value creation point. 
  • Lambda becomes broadly available - Lambda was the most exciting announcement back at re-invent in my view, and Amazon undersold it to a certain point, so it is good to see that more use cases, especially IoT were raised in San Francisco. And with adding support for lambda in CloudFormation and Mobile development Amazon is doing the steady work of making lambda more available across the Amazon platform. Good to see.

ISV Traction - To keep growing Amazon must attract not only enterprises and ISVs that want to build next generation platforms, but also ISVs that will bring either net new customer load to Amazon or move their on premise load to the AWS cloud. Last year Infor was front and center of this trend, with Infor CEO Charles Philips presenting in San Francisco, this year the trend continues with announcements by MicroStrategy, Software AG, TIBCO and more joining IMS Health, Infor, PegaSystems, Splunk et al making Amazon the platform for their next generation products. As Infor has laid out many times, the advantages are compelling – instead of putting precious investment $s into infrastructure and data centers, vendors can focus on product and let Amazon sort out the infrastructure side. That they also create a certain level of dependence on Amazon seems not bother their customers these days. And with e.g. IBM, Oracle and SAP not showing yet material advantages of a vendor running SaaS, PaaS and IaaS all in one hand, this may not change soon either. 


An announcement and feature rich kickoff event for Amazon in the capitol of Silicon Valley (sorry San Jose). Amazon is doing the hard work to integrate their offerings and making them available across administrative and developer services and platforms. The result is a more congruent, efficient and ultimately more appealing platform for enterprises and developers. Amazon needs to keep executing along that strategy and cannot count on its competitors not getting their act together. 2015 will be an exciting year for the cloud and Amazon came out of the gates strong. Stronger than I frankly expected – but that all is good news for customers and the market.

[Comment – the [From the fences] add on to the post title means that I was not attending the event in person, but used the briefings, material Amazon provided and feedback from various industry and influence sources as well as our Constellation customer views to form my opinion and takeaways of the event. Take it with a grain of salt.]

More on AWS

  • Event Report - AWS re:invent - AWS becomes more about PaaS on inhouse IP - read here
  • AWS gives infrastructure insights - and it is very passionate about it - read here
  • News Analysis - AWS spricht Deutsch - the cloud wars reach Germany - read here
  • Market Move - Infor runs CloudSuite on AWS - Inflection Point or hot air balloon? Read here
  • Event Report - AWS Summit in SFO - AWS keeps doing what has been working in the last 8 years - read here
  • AWS  moves the yardstick - Day 2 reinvent takeaways - read here.
  • AWS powers on, into new markets - Day 1 reinvent takeaways - read here.
  • The Cloud is growing up - three signs in the News - read here.
  • Amazon AWS powers on - read here.

Other cloud related:
  • Musings - Are we witnessing the rise of the enterprise cloud? Read here
Find more coverage on the Constellation Research website here.