Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to pitch its platform as the logical solution for any business looking to move services to the cloud, touting its global presence and the sheer number of features and functions available through its application programming interfaces.
But the firm is now tempering its aggressive "all-in" strategy with the realisation that many businesses, especially enterprise firms, will operate with a hybrid cloud strategy for the near future at least.
AWS senior vice president Andy Jassy said at the AWS Enterprise Summit in London that the firm's available cloud capacity dwarfs that of other providers, quoting estimates from Gartner that it has 10 times the capacity of the other 14 cloud providers combined.
AWS will also have 16 global regions by the end of 2016, each with multiple availability zones for redundancy, thanks to the ongoing expansion that has seen Amazon announce new data centres in Ohio, India and Korea, and most recently the UK.
However, Jassy claimed that the success of AWS is down more to the features and functions it offers that make it easier to support business processes, help customers make the migration to the cloud, and keep their data secure and applications running reliably once on the AWS cloud.
A change from previous AWS events is that the firm appears to be softening its "everything will run on our cloud" standpoint, even if only a little, a view that was being pushed by the firm at a previous AWS Summit earlier this year.
"Companies are more and more moving a substantial amount of workloads to AWS and the cloud, but lots and lots of enterprises are going to operate in hybrid mode for a long time," said Jassy.
"It's not a binary choice. Even though there is a transition going on, there are a lot of companies that aren't ready to retire their data centre assets yet, and what they really want is the ability to run their on-premises footprint seamlessly with AWS, which is why we have a built a whole number of services in this space over the past three or four years to make this simpler, and the reality is that the vast majority of large hybrid cloud implementations are on AWS today."
However, Jassy also claimed that AWS is seeing "an increasing number of enterprises building two- to five-year plans to migrate all their applications to AWS", citing examples such as Intuit, Talen Energy, Time and other customers it is working with.
The reason is that such companies want to get the full benefits of using AWS to deliver services, he said, such as the ability to speedily provision new resources as required, without having to worry about running out of resources thanks to the "vast infrastructure" available on the AWS cloud.
"You get real elasticity in the cloud, so you don't have to guess ahead of time how much capacity you need, and AWS is able to take its very large scale and pass this on to customers in the form of lower prices," Jassy said.
This was backed up by some AWS customers during a later session. Graham Tackley, director of data technology at Guardian News & Media, said that his firm had started out using cloud services as basically an extension of its own data centre, but that over time "we started realising that things like auto-scaling on AWS could get rid of a whole load of maintenance issues for us, and buying into being cloud-native could enable us to deliver a whole lot faster".
In a similar vein, Chris Livermore, head of operations at British Gas Connected Homes, said that his firm operates a hybrid arrangement with an internal private cloud for one or two services that currently have to be kept on-premise.
His department tries to offer the same experience for these as AWS does, but "it's very difficult trying to keep up with Amazon", he said, and with capabilities such as the Amazon RDS database platform available, "I don't want to have to manage a database if someone else can do it for me."
This is a new angle from AWS, arguing that the firm is able to bring new services to market more quickly and operate them more effectively than a customer's own IT department, so that companies operating a hybrid cloud architecture with AWS as the public cloud provider will quickly come to realise that AWS is the better option.
Jassy detailed services unveiled at Amazon's re:Invent show last month as examples of the kind of capabilities AWS is continuing to add to its service catalogue.
These include Kinesis Firehose for ingesting streams of data from sources such as the Internet of Things into AWS, the QuickSight business intelligence service, and Config Rules, which provides the ability to automatically verify that newly created resources on AWS are compliant with the customer's security guidelines and best practices.
But it isn't just that AWS has features that other cloud providers currently lack, as the firm also offers greater depth of support, Jassy claimed. To back this up, he cited the firm's database services. As well as the Amazon Relational Database Service, which offers a choice of database engines including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL, MySQL and MariaDB, AWS offers a migration service between different database platforms.
However, Jassy conceded that many organisations are still wary of moving many services to a public cloud platform owing to various problems such as data security, governance and keeping control over applications and services.
To address this, AWS has already achieved a broad range of industry accreditations and certifications, he claimed, such as ISO 27018 and PCI DSS, to enable customers to comply with governance regulations when storing data on its cloud, as well as data encryption services and the CloudTrail service that creates an audit trail of all actions carried out on a customer's account.
Some AWS customers said that, once companies start using the cloud, they will realise that it need not be any more of a security risk than operating services from their own infrastructure.
David Rogers, head of technology at the UK Ministry of Justice Digital, offered some advice for organisations still prevaricating about the cloud.
"You should probably start engaging with the idea that the cloud can be considerably more secure than the private cloud or your own data centre, and start engaging with the risks that are building in the spaces where you haven't moved to the cloud yet," he said.
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