Amazon Web Services trains its spotlight on enterprises
By Edwin Yapp November 14, 2014
- New security services launched to entice enterprises to public cloud
- Claims Aurora database combines best of commercial and open source DBs
CLOUD vendor Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a new suite of services designed to address enterprise customers, a move it believes will bolster its credentials as a true enterprise cloud provider.
These features include new security and compliance services as well as a new open source-based relational database, AWS senior vice president Andy Jassy (pic) said at re:Invent, AWS’ annual conference for partners, customers, analysts and the media, on Nov 12.
He said AWS’ strategy is to always listen to its customers, adding that 90% of the features and functions that the Amazon.com division brings to the market are a result of considering what customers want.
For example, while enterprise customers trust AWS’ infrastructure due to its many certifications, they would still ask AWS to ensure that their services built on AWS’ infrastructure is secured, he said.
“I get [comments] noting that the individual building blocks of our infrastructure are secure,” he told a crowd of some 13,500 attendees at the Sands Expo, Las Vegas.
“Enterprises tell me they’ve seen our architecture, read our security white papers, spoken to our security guys, and [they know our] track record – but they still ask us to help them secure their services.
“This is why we’ve brought to market a whole new set of [security] services,” Jassy said.
The three new security and compliance services introduced on Nov 12 are:
- AWS Key Management Service: A fully managed service that makes it easy for customers to create and control the encryption keys used to encrypt their data on the AWS Cloud;
- AWS Config: A fully managed service that provides customers with full visibility into their resources, including audit resource configuration history; and
- AWS Service Catalogue: A service that allows enterprise administrators to select what AWS resources they want their employees to deploy and control via a personalised portal.
Jassy said with the three services in place, enterprise customers would have new AWS Cloud services that can easily and cost-effectively manage their infrastructure.
“As our customers move larger portions of their applications to the AWS Cloud, they need more than just robust, highly secure infrastructure services.
“They’ve asked us for tools to help them fortify the landscape around their core services and ensure that they are deploying what they intend, governing their resources, and implementing security best practices,” Scott Wiltamuth, vice president of developer productivity and tools at AWS, said in a statement.
“To address these needs, AWS Key Management Service, AWS Config, and AWS Service Catalogue help customers manage encryption and compliance efforts so they can understand, control, and audit how their resources are being deployed, who is accessing them, and what usage and activities are happening within their environments,” he added.
‘A new dawn’
In tandem with the introduction of the three new security services, AWS also revealed a new database known as Amazon Aurora, with Jassy referring to it as ‘a new dawn’ for the cloud player.
Amazon Aurora is a cloud-based, MySQL-compatible database engine for Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases, he claimed.
The service is designed to bridge the gap between the high performance of commercial, high-end databases such as Oracle and Microsoft SQL, and the low-cost of open source alternatives such as MySQL and PostgreSQL.
Amazon Aurora, three years in the making, has five times the performance of the typical MySQL database, and its availability is as good or better than commercial databases or high-end SANs (storage area networks), Jassy claimed.
“Our customers asked us if they had an easier way to get the performance of commercial databases at the price of open source engines. What if you didn’t have to make that choice? Aurora is that answer – all at one-tenth the cost of high-end commercial database offerings,” he proclaimed.
Pushing cloud envelope
The introduction of these new services is seen by some industry observers as a sign that AWS is not to be taken lightly as a mainstream enterprise-grade cloud service provider, an area its rivals have been known to attack.
According to Michael Warrilow (pic), research director for infrastructure at Gartner, these new services constitute exciting news for the vendor as it seeks to rebrand itself as a serious public cloud player that is able to meet the needs of traditional enterprises.
Speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) on the sidelines of the conference, Warrilow said he expects AWS to extend its lead as the innovation it introduced at re:Invent this year will continue to push the boundaries of cloud technology.
“The announcement … has shown its competitive edge and that it [AWS] is not resting on its laurels,” he said.
“AWS knows how to be competitive given its retail business background, and it’s smart enough to know that it must move ahead of its competitors. So far, AWS is demonstrating this with the security and compliance, as well as the database, announcements.”
Asked what Amazon Aurora would mean to AWS, Warrilow said the new database has significant price competitiveness over what traditional on-premises database vendors can offer.
While AWS has supported relational databases before in the form of Oracle, Microsoft SQL, MySQL and Postgre SQL, Aurora is considered new within the platform environment, he added.
“This is another opportunity for AWS to grow its business. Together with the security enhancements it has made, this could help tempt enterprise customers to move away from the more traditional alternatives they’re used to, towards AWS,” Warrilow said.
Meanwhile, tech blog GigaOm reports that the new Aurora service is expected to give a moment of pause to enterprise customers which are “sick of Oracle’s pricing structure and refusal to budge from older licensing models.”
“Still there are very few applications that are more ‘sticky’ than databases … financial institutions see their use of Oracle databases as almost a pre-requisite for compliance, although that perception may be changing,” GigaOm said.
Similarly, Larry Dignan of ZDNet argued that the fallout from the Aurora launch could be large assuming that AWS' performance claims hold up.
Dignan pointed out that to date, the conventional wisdom is that the enterprise analytics mesh would include new workloads on open source databases and Hadoop, and a relational side that would come from the usual suspects: Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.
“What Aurora could do is capture new workloads just enough to crimp the maintenance and licensing revenue of a company like Oracle,” he argued.
“Should Aurora further commoditise databases, enterprise buyers could get some leverage. The key will be how easy AWS can make a database move for customers,” Dignan said.
Edwin Yapp reports from re:Invent 2014 Las Vegas, at the invitation of Amazon.com. All editorials are independent.
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