Cloud Technology Insights

Amazon Web Services: Cloud Storage's New World Order

CIO VendorAndy Jassy, CEO
Eleven years ago, Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, looked like he was making yet another risky bet—a move that others termed as a distraction from its core online retailing business. He would provide storage and computing services that Amazon was already using for its own operations as a sort of digital utility to startups. Bezos and a top lieutenant, Andy Jassy, who would eventually become the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), labored quietly behind their retail business and built what’s now called AWS. From something that nobody believed at its conception, AWS has turned into an upstart that today dwarfs nearly every substantial competitor today—marking the Cloud Storage’s New World Order.

AWS began what is now a seismic shift in the global technology landscape—creating a surprise powerhouse with an annual revenue run rate of $13 billion and representing a 64 percent year-over-year growth. “I don’t think any of us had the audacity to predict it would grow as big or as fast as it has,” comments Jassy. But AWS was not a “eureka moment” nor did any proverbial apple fall on someone’s head, it was an idea which emerged out of Amazon’s frustration with its inability to launch new projects and support customers in their retail business.

Today, the Seattle, Washington-based firm betters old-guard purveyors of hardware and software on storage capabilities, services, costs, and benefits—allowing local startups go global in a snap! “AWS allows any organization to run their technology applications on top of our technology infrastructure platform,” adds Jassy. In a wave that is permeating every industry sector—from the U.S. government to Netflix—AWS has earned the reputation of being a leader in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service market.

Leader for a Reason

The success of AWS has been exponential and consistent for a reason—the focus on its customers. Jassy states, “We knew that the prime consumers of infrastructure would be large enterprises, but we also had a mental image of a college kid in his dorm room having the same access, the same scalability and same infrastructure costs as the largest businesses in the world.” And by all accounts, Amazon has delivered on that vision as its customers include small startups as well as large, established firms in virtually every industry. AWS has a compelling value proposition for each case.

AWS’ Cloud Storage services are split into six distinct categories— Amazon Simple Storage Services (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic File System (EFS), Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Amazon Glacier, AWS Storage Gateway, and Data Transfer Services—covering the entire schema of an organization’s cloud storage requirements—irrespective of the organization’s size.

AWS is a behind-the-scenes partner for more than 1 million customers, from tiny mom-and-pop shops to Fortune 500 leviathans, providing online infrastructure to support their databases.

AWS allows any organization to run their technology applications on top of our technology infrastructure platform


Innovation and Scalability

According to Jassy, while one half of their strategy is solely focused on their customers, the other half revolves around innovating and making their services scalable. “We are pioneers. AWS has been able to read between the lines of customer feedback and invent on their behalf,” says Jassy. Over their period of operation, the undeniable disruptive force in enterprise IT has ushered new ways of cloud storage, and unleashed a bevy of new services— with a spring in its steps. “The pace of raw innovation on the AWS platform is very unusual and it creates its own flywheel,” exclaims Jassy.

Iterating and delivering a massive scalability of services for organizations to choose from, the giants have been successful in attracting customers globally. “This facilitates not only the transfer of existing applications, but the launching of new applications as well. The appeal for the enterprise is an ability to launch any imaginable business idea,” explains Jassy. By extending its own Cloud Storage innovations as enterprise services, AWS is interested in building strong market opportunity to layer in more analytics services. “One of the significant things the market will see is customers wanting to layer their analytics and machine learning models on top of that data,” adds Jassy.

re:Invent Now, Connect Next

At their annual technology conference, re:Invent 2016, AWS announced the launch of Amazon Athena and Lambda, amongst many more. While Amazon Athena is a new tool for running queries on data that’s stored in AWS’ widely used S3 cloud storage service, Lambda has picked up extra steam in the past year as a result of people leveraging it to create skills, or miniature voice-activated apps, for Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, which is available on Amazon’s Echo line of smart speakers.

The philosophy behind letting customers run Lambda functions at CloudFront locations is similar to the thinking behind the AWS Green grass software that makes it possible to run Lambda functions on data on AWS Snowball storage devices, which are used to efficiently move data from organizations’ on-premises data centers into AWS facilities.

AWS has gained a very broad geographic footprint, but the behemoths firmly believe that there is much more to explore. “Over time we’ll have an AWS ‘region’ (a cluster of data centers) in practically every Tier 1 country and a lot of developing countries as well,” adds Jassy. “We have a machine-learning service that we launched about a year and a half ago, and there are a lot of Artificial Intelligence (AI) machine-learning capabilities coming.” So is this the future of the cloud? “If you look around homes and the workplace, there are all these sensors in many devices. These sensors have a small amount of (computing power) and memory. Which means the cloud becomes disproportionately important to supplement their capabilities. Most of the big IoT cases today are built on top of AWS,” answers Jassy—pointing out the now and next for AWS.