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Looking ahead to AWS re:Invent, public clouds keep gaining momentum

Amazon Web Services Inc. continues to dominate the public cloud market. As its seventh annual re:Invent conference approaches, it’s clear that AWS, along with Microsoft Corp. and Google LLC, are the clear leaders in this arena, with strong differentiation in AI, containerization, serverless, edge and other innovative approaches for standing up production-grade enterprise applications in their respective environments.

Behind this momentum is the fact that more users are adopting AWS’ public cloud offerings, both for shifting their legacy applications and workloads to its elastic computing fabric and for building new applications that run natively in the company’s hyperscale environment.

To address the surge in demand, AWS continues to launch its cloud services in more regions worldwide and to more availability zones per region. It has also made a significant financial commitment to expanding its partner ecosystem to deliver cloud-based solutions in every region, vertical, application and deployment scenario.

Wikibon has predicted that enterprise spending on different types of cloud computing will top $750 billion globally by 2026. As the premier public cloud provider, AWS continues to evolve its services rapidly in order to absorb a substantial share of this opportunity going forward. It has moved to progressively higher abstraction layers for core compute services.

It has also had Docker container support for several years but added Kubernetes orchestration last year in recognition of Google’s having established Kubernetes as a standard. Several years ago, AWS moved compute up one more layer with serverless compute services that execute as event handlers in AWS Lambda. More and more services are accessible via Lambda calls, including databases.

For all its strengths, AWS doesn’t have runaway momentum in the larger cloud market. In the wake of IBM Corp.’s recent bombshell announcementthat it is acquiring Red Hat Inc., it’s clear that AWS comes up a bit short on hybrid cloud and multicloud support, though its deepening VMware Inc. partnership is a pivotal component of its strategy in that direction. In addition, AWS lacks a prepackaged cloud application portfolio that would enable it to compete head-on with Oracle Corp., SAP SE, Salesforce.com Inc. and other SaaS providers for the key enterprise digital transformation opportunities.

Going into re:Invent 2018, Wikibon expects AWS to focus on several key strategies to maintain continued growth:

  • Fostering a vibrant partner ecosystem within AWS’ cloud services marketplace;
  • Empowering customers to build composable cloud applications that span AWS’ cloud service portfolio;
  • Enabling simplified development through functional programming of serverless capabilities in AWS’ cloud;
  • Accelerating deployment of containerized AI and analytics applications in AWS’ cloud; and
  • Delivering AI-powered conversational user interfaces to enhance customer experience in AWS’ cloud.

A year ago, AWS Chief Executive Andy Jassy discussed each of these roadmap items in his interview on theCUBE at re:Invent 2017. Here are some highlights:

  • Partner ecosystem within AWS’ cloud services marketplace: “It’s not just a set of services that we’re building, but there are thousands and thousands of ISVs and SaaS providers who are also building products on top of AWS where their business is growing by leaps and bounds. One of the interesting things about the marketplace… is that if you talk to most software buyers they hate the process. It’s just how long it takes the negotiation process. And by the way, most of the software sellers also hate the process. And so if you can find a mechanism which is what were trying to provide with the AWS marketplace where buyers and sellers can complete those transactions and find each other so much faster, it totally changes the world of buying software and consuming software.”
  • Composable cloud applications that span AWS’ cloud service portfolio: “This has been happening now for the last 10 years and I think that people aren’t building applications for the most part the way they used to. If you’re building new applications and you’re trying to build all the hosting software all the storage software and all the database software. And all the messaging and queuing and analytics and machine learning, you’re just wasting resources. Because when you have the option of using 120 services from a platform like AWS that has thousands and thousands of people working on it delivering an average three and a half new features a day, that you could choose to use or not, it’s so much faster. It’s so much more empowering to let your Builders take advantage of that platform. You get from idea to implementation orders of magnitude faster using the cloud. And what keeps happening as we just keep adding more and more capabilities that allow people to do more.”
  • Functional programming of serverless capabilities in AWS’ cloud: “In the very earliest days of AWS, [Amazon CEO] Jeff [Bezos] used to say a lot if I were starting Amazon today I’d have built it on top of AWS. We didn’t have all the capability in all the functionality at that very moment. But he knew what was coming and he saw what people were still able to accomplish even with where the services were at that point. I think the same thing is true here with [AWS] Lambda [function-as-a-service offering in their serverless cloud]. I think if Amazon were starting today, it’s a given they would build it on the cloud and I think with a lot of the applications that comprise Amazon’s consumer business, we would build those on our serverless capabilities. We still have plenty of capabilities and features and functionality we need to add to Lambda, and our various services, so that may not be true from the get-go right now. But I think if you look at the hundreds of thousands of customers who are building on top of Lambda and lots of real applications. People are building real serious things on top of Lambda. And the pace of iteration, you’ll see there, will increase as well and I really believe that to be true over the next year or too.”
  • Containerized AI and analytics microservices in AWS’ cloud: “The first thing to remember is that simply because we have a lot of functionality doesn’t mean that customers have to know about every single service. One of the reasons we release so many things during the year of over 1,300 services this year alone and in about 70 new releases just at re:Invent this week is that when you have millions of active customers you have lots of diversity in those customers. The first question I asked every single customer I sat down with is what are your impressions, what are you excited about? There were some who said I can’t believe I’m so excited about [Amazon] SageMaker [data science toolchain solution, which is] going to completely change the accessibility of doing machine learning in my organization. Some said [they] really wanted those language application services and machine learning. Others were totally focused on the multimaster Aurora and global tables for DynamoDB and the graph database. And still others said [they] love ECS but wanted a Kubernetes [containerized microservices orchestration] option, and then now that I don’t even have to manage containers at the server level and I can manage at the task levels what I’m excited about. And, still others who are IoT customers, that’s what they cared about.”
  • AI-powered conversational user interfaces in AWS’ cloud: “When we first had phones that had apps and you could do all kinds of things by tapping on the phone that was revolutionary. But then when you experience a voice app it makes tapping on your phone so circa-2010. So, I think that the world will have a huge amount of voice applications and it’s going to be people’s preference and part because it’s just a more natural expression than actually tapping and trying to click and type things. One of the things customers want to talk about is how can I actually be involved in using Alexa? How can I build skills for Alexa? And then over the last few months that conversation turned to… thinking about making Alexa more useful inside of businesses and for work, and so there’s so much applicability. All the devices have to continue to evolve and you can see that at Amazon were continuing to build all kinds of diverse devices. But I think voice is going to be a major mode of how people interact with cell phones.”

Since re:Invent 2017, AWS has addressed these requirements with a steady stream of strategic product releases, which have been covered extensively in SiliconANGLE. And we’ve covered them deeply in Wikibon’s recent big data market survey and other research studies.

To catch what AWS executives, partners, and customers are saying now, get drill-downs on their forthcoming announcements and receive compelling glimpses into their roadmap going forward, tune into theCUBE live at re:Invent 2018 from Tuesday through Thursday, Nov. 27-29.

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