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AWS comes of age in first user conference

30 Nov 2012
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As Amazon Web Services (AWS) wraps up its first ever re:Invent user conference, the group finds itself stepping out of the shadow of its parent retail company and firmly into the spotlight as a leader in the cloud computing space.

The inaugural convention saw the company bring in partners and customers from around the globe to discuss the future of its cloud computing platform. If AWS executives are to be believed, that future will be a bright one.

The company kicked off the convention with a new product announcement, unveiling the Amazon Redshift data warehousing service. As with all AWS services, the platform is cloud-based and runs on a monthly pay-as-you go usage model.

The company hopes that the platform will allow customers to save tens of thousands of dollars per month by eliminating the hardware and overhead costs associated with purchasing and maintaining their own data warehouse systems.

Additionally, the company believes it will be able to expand the data warehousing market by lowering the entry costs for smaller firms.

AWS executives also looked to dispel the notion that its cloud platform was merely an offshoot from the retail service. The company said that its parent had only recently transitioned from a multi-million dollar on-premise server setup to the AWS cloud.

The process, which began in 2008 and was completed in 2010, saw the company move all of the web servers which support its retail operation from on-premise servers to cloud instances. In addition to saving costs on hardware, Amazon claims that the move has allowed it to better handle spikes and lulls in traffic, eliminating wasted storage capacity.

Though the internal migration helped Amazon develop and manage its cloud platform, the company maintains that its technology is still shaped and driven by customer demand.

AWS vice president Adam Selipsky told V3 during the conference that in many cases users are on the forefront of development for the platform and new services such as Redshift are developed in response to customer feedback and demand.

Some of Amazon's customers used the conference to showcase developments and projects which could soon change the face of the AWS cloud itself.

A group of researchers from the University of California Berkeley demonstrated a pair experimental database components known as "Shark" and "Spark" which could dramatically speed the performance of big data analysis platforms and improve the process of data analysis.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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