Amazon is trumpeting the success of its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud business, claiming that it has five times the compute capacity of all other cloud providers combined, and predicting a future where more and more customers operate their IT using AWS rather than their own data centre.
Vice president and chief technology officer Werner Vogels reaffirmed the company's commitment to a customer-centric model driven by user feature requests at the firm's AWS Summit event in London.
Vogels gave some insight into the reasons for the creation of AWS, saying that he was frustrated with having to deal with IT vendors when building infrastructure for Amazon's online shopping service.
"I hated dealing with providers; it felt like the provider was in charge, not us. As soon as I handed the database sales guy a cheque, he just disappeared and we had to sign a costly maintenance contract to get any support," Vogels explained.
"We swore when starting AWS that we would not be like that. We would put the customer in charge, and shift the balance of power from IT providers to the customer."
Now, with data centres around the globe and over a million active customers using the AWS cloud every month, Amazon has effectively become one of the largest IT providers in the world, and it expects to keep on growing as more companies are tempted to entrust all or most of their IT services to AWS.
Notable companies that have recently gone "all-in" with AWS include enterprise software vendors such as Infor and Software AG, while data analytics firm Splunk announced just today that its platform is now available on AWS across nine regions.
This success means that AWS sees hybrid cloud as just an intermediate step to getting customers completely onto its cloud in the future.
"In our eyes, hybrid IT is not the endpoint. It is the path to more cloud use. More and more of your services will move to AWS, and less and less will be running in your own data centre," Vogels said.
IT services are "not a competitive differentiator", according to Vogels, because everyone has largely the same IT requirements. Businesses should thus focus on the products and services that differentiate them, not on their IT, and offload these functions to the cloud.
"All enterprises need to be like startups today. And if you want to move fast and meet the needs of your customers, you shouldn't fight gravity. The cloud is the pace that will help you move faster," said Vogels.
Amazon is not the only hosted infrastructure provider to be making such claims, but Vogel pushed the case for AWS being way ahead of rivals in terms of the features and services it makes available to IT departments and developers, saying that other cloud platforms are effectively where AWS was in 2010.
Among the new services recently introduced, Vogels highlighted the Amazon Elastic File System, Amazon Machine Learning, the EC2 Container Service, and improvements to the event-driven AWS Lambda service.
The Elastic File System, available as a preview, complements Amazon's existing object and block storage services and provides an effectively limitless file system that can be mounted by EC2 virtual machine instances. It expands as files are added, and customers pay only for the storage capacity they use.
Amazon Machine Learning is a customisable service designed to make predictions from data, such as suggestions for products a buyer might like based on their purchase history.
Vogels claimed that this has been designed to offer "push button" ease of use and the ability to train the algorithm to improve its prediction accuracy.
The EC2 Container Service, introduced earlier this month, is designed to allow customers to break down monolithic application stacks into collections of smaller micro-services, and has support for Docker Containers at launch.
Finally, the AWS Lambda service, which runs code based on events such as a new file being added to an S3 bucket, has been enhanced so that developers can call functions directly from code as well as an event. In a few weeks' time, Amazon will also support Java as a language option for creating Lambda functions, Vogels said.
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