Relus Re:Cap – Key Announcements Made at AWS Re:Invent 2015

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Our team just returned from Las Vegas at Amazon Web Services’s 4th annual re:Invent conference. I will review the similarities from last year, new announcements and key takeaways. First, let’s cover the three most significant announcements to potentially affect enterprise IT in the coming years.

The Big 3

IoT – Investing in the burgeoning Internet of Things space, Amazon announced AWS IoT, a fully managed platform for processing and using data from devices and sensors connected via the internet. AWS said their service could scale to handle billions of devices and trillions of transactions. For those who may be rolling their eyes about IoT, and thinking that connected thermostats are not mission critical apps, AWS brought out two early adopters to the stage. Amazon CTO, Werner Vogels, announced that John Deere developed an IoT solution to track planting a crop down to the seed, both at the individual seed level and by the acreage of the field. Vogels also mentioned BMW’s method of tracking its customers’ drives and improving the safety of their cars using AWS IoT solutions.

Business Intelligence – For the customer with an “all in” strategy with AWS, this was the most exciting announcement, AWS QuickSight. Announced as 1/10th the cost of competing BI solutions, it might be easy to discount this service as inferior. Skeptics might say “you get what you pay for”. However, after seeing a brief demonstration, I think this new service will be a big winner for AWS. QuickSight could massively disrupt the business intelligence space over the next few years. I wonder what AWS partners like Tableau, Qlik, and Birst think about this service? I am guessing they realize they better have a solution that is significantly differentiated or they will be losing market share. For now, QuickSight is not available for general use, nor does it seem to integrate with on-premise infrastructure, so other BI vendors might not recognize much of a threat – yet. But, for the customer who is born in the cloud or has made the decision to move entirely to the cloud, QuickSight will likely be the tool of choice.

Data Migration – Not really a technological breakthrough, but AWS announced Snowball, a 50TB storage appliance that is rented to download data and then ship to Amazon via FedEx to then be uploaded into the cloud. Snowball was well thought out though, and was designed to be an incredibly easy, inexpensive and safe method to ship large datasets to AWS when sending via the internet is not practical. Firehose was also announced to allow ingestion of sensor data in real time via AWS Kenesis.

 

Buzz Word Watch

In 2014, it was hard to keep track of the times that Amazon executives said “Let us take care of the undifferentiated heavy lifting”. The theme has been to allow businesses to concentrate on their core, and let AWS take care of server and storage maintenance, patching, backups, etc. This year, the buzz phrase is “cloud is the new norm”. AWS executives have been delivering the message that cloud is no longer an experiment for west coast startups or video gamers. They have announced 100’s of features squarely aimed at enterprise IT – helping companies in healthcare, financial services, retail and manufacturing cut costs, improve security, and become more agile. Maybe the biggest announcement at the conference wasn’t even by AWS at all. The CIO of General Electric, the 9th largest company in the world, announced on stage “We are all in on AWS”. Clearly the message from AWS is that if an enterprise the scale of GE is going to the cloud, then certainly “cloud is the new norm”.

Shots Fired

For the 2nd year in a row, AWS did not shy away from taking a few strategic shots at legacy IT vendors like Oracle and IBM. For both vendors, AWS now has a competing product at 1/10th the cost. For Oracle, their money machine for years has been their relational database, and the pricey annual maintenance their enterprise customers have continued to pay. Last year AWS announced Aurora, and announced some continued enhancements this year. This managed database service is now the fastest growing AWS solution – likely at the expense of Oracle and Microsoft. The new AWS QuickSight BI suite was trumpeted at 1/10th the cost of legacy solutions like IBM Cognos. It was interesting that two other legacy vendors (EMC and Dell) were announcing a merger during all of this – likely due to continued pressure from the cloud.

re:Cap

Normally, we say “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. In this case, our team is excited to come home and spread our knowledge and expertise around these new AWS offerings. With cloud as the new norm, all enterprise businesses are looking at how they can leverage the agility, cost reductions, and scalability of AWS. The re:Invent 2016 conference should be really interesting. I am expecting continued growth in Aurora, Lambda, and QuickSight. See you there next year!

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