An Enterprising Amazon or an Amazon’d Enterprise?

I just wrapped up a week out here in Last Vegas at the Amazon Web Services conference re:Invent with some 9000 of my friends. You might think this was just another big tech conference full of nerds (well yeah – I am in pretty good company), but there are some striking differences here.

The first one is Amazon itself – this is a company that has taken tremendous pains to deliver all the services the enterprise wants. They talked a good bit about what they do under the covers with their specialized hardware – but more importantly they really have figured out how to build out a very rich set of services that appeal to expert and novice software developers alike.

On the announcements front Amazon delivered a series of important new services that focused on endpoints/mobile, governance/protection, and PaaS/IaaS improvements. They included:

Endpoints/Mobile

  • Amazon WorkSpaces – managed desktops for laptops (Mac and Windows), iPad, Kindle Fire, and Android tablets. Like other VDI solutions, WorkSpaces provides a centralized pay-as-you-go desktop service that includes active directory integration. They showed an approximate price of about $50/month/user for a small instance.
  • Amazon AppStream – a service designed to allow a business to reduce latency by streaming applications and games. For now, this service is restricted to Windows Server 2008 R2 (which was a surprise) with Mac OS support coming in 2014.

Governance/Protection

  • Amazon CloudTrail – a web service that provides log data for all API calls. To me this was one of the most interesting and important services to attract the enterprise customer. It allows the enterprise to know who does what when with all the services, making it possible to perform deep audits for security and performance. When combined with Amazon’s log mining partners AlertLogic, Boundary, Loggly, Splunk, and SumoLogic, the data can reveal useful change tracking patterns, where to focus troubleshooting efforts, and security issues.
  • Trusted Advisor – this service helps the enterprise improve resource utilization by helping identify performance bottlenecks, underutilized resources, and security gaps. This is AWS taking a proactive approach to helping their customers have the best and most cost-effective experience.
  • Cross Region Snapshots – Amazon Redshift is a warehouse that can now be replicated via snapshots, making it possible to have better data protection of the warehouse as well as make the warehouse available in multiple regions (think continents).

PaaS/IaaS Improvements

  • Amazon RDS PostgreSQL – On the PaaS front Amazon has announced a new object relational database that complements their MySQL and Windows SQLServer offers. This comes with all the goodies that Amazon delivers for all their other databases including multiple zones, provisioned IOPs, backups, etc. This makes AWS one of the most complete database and warehouse offerings in the cloud and--just based on the customer response at re:Invent-–a big win for customers as well.
  • Amazon Kinesis – a real time processor of streaming data at scale. For those enterprises that are ready to instrument their operations with real time data to provide an in-the-moment perspective on how things are going – then this is a very important announcement. The demo on stage showed how realtime Twitter data could be analyzed and drilled into (with some basic programming).
  • New Instances – Amazon announced C3 and I2 instances at the event. C3 are very large and high performance processing power instances (2-32 vCPU, 3.75-60GiB, and 2x16 to 2x320 SSD). Amazon also announced a very high I/O I2 instances with only SSD storage that is also able to deliver up to 20 times the performance.

To summarize the new services – this was definitely designed to continue to enable Amazon’s customers to have more choice, better governance, and, in my opinion, build the foundation for some really important endpoint capabilities. If you think of AWS with endpoints as part of a two-tier design any-SaaS. This is where applications design is split between any endpoint and the AWS cloud for IaaS and PaaS services.

The last thing I came away with was that Amazon is serious about the enterprise – not just because of the rich services but the focus on their enterprise customers with sales and customer service, their partner network, and their support for integrators/brokers. An enterprise can either DIY with AWS or buy services from very experienced and talented brokers who deliver managed AWS cloud to anyone who needs it. I’m glad I went – it was a great experience – and so amazing to see how many cool companies are using AWS or building services for AWS customers to use.

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration