Can Amazon Web Services serve enterprises effectively?: Page 2 of 3
By Edwin Yapp November 25, 2014
Traditional IT strikes back
The data centre is arguably where public cloud providers such as AWS have disrupted the traditional IT landscape the most.
As with any technology paradigm shift, traditional enterprise customers such as banks, telcos, retailers, manufacturers first did not trust the concept of the public cloud, and wondered whether the service-based solutions cloud players peddled were as reliable, secure and as scalable as the conventional method of running on-premises IT shops.
It didn’t help that doubts were also sown by traditional IT vendors, decrying public cloud providers as not having the reliability, security and scalability enterprise customers needed.
Public cloud players meanwhile struck back by claiming the kind of private clouds pushed by traditional IT vendors weren’t ‘true’ clouds, and weren’t deriving the full benefits of the cloud.
But in the past three years, AWS has almost single-handedly debunked the notion that public clouds providers aren’t up to the task of handling serious enterprise IT workloads and applications.
Other providers supplying software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud offerings such as Salesforce.com Inc and Workday Inc also helped immensely.
To testify to AWS’ enterprise-readiness, Jassy (pic) invited big guns on stage at re:Invent to show that large multi-million dollar conglomerates have begun turning to its infrastructure to run mission-critical workloads and applications.
Appearing on stage were big names such as Major League Baseball (MLB) Advanced Media’s chief technology office (CTO) Joe Inzerillo, who highlighted its powerful Statcast system that can monitor baseball statistics and analyse close-up plays in real-time, and deliver interactivity to millions of viewers.
Next was Jeroen Tas, head of healthcare information solutions at Philips NV, who demonstrated how Dutch healthcare giant’s AWS-based cloud solution could help analyse risk factors and present better real-time healthcare management to patients.
Also on stage was US tax software company Intuit Inc’s chief technology officer (CTO) Tayloe Stansbury, who told attendees that his company is about to go “all-in” with AWS, having moved some of its major applications such as TurboTax AnswerXchange and Mint.com personal finance app to the cloud provider.
Other examples of customers that have hitched their IT infrastructure to the AWS bandwagon are media kings Conde Nast, Comcast, and Lionsgate; government-linked agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the National Aeronautics Space Administration; and startup powerhouses such as Dropbox, Netflix and Pinterest.
Although these companies are at various stages of cloud adoption, the message is clear: Large enterprises representing a wide variety of sectors are no longer shunning the cloud but are instead adopting it openly.
Larry Dignan of ZDNet best summarises this development, “Those customer accounts really are just data points to a broader theme.
“The message to the AWS devotees in attendance [at re:Invent] is that everything and every enterprise should have some connection to Amazon's cloud service [and] AWS seems to be headed in the right direction.”
The hybrid option
Despite the cloud proposition AWS brings to the table, Jassy acknowledged that its public cloud model wasn’t ‘a-one-size-fits-all’ solution.
Speaking to the press after his keynote address, he said this kind of decision shouldn’t be binary in nature, alluding to the ‘either you’re all in public clouds or not’ argument.
He conceded that customers will continue to have on-premises data, and argued that AWS can still cater to them through the various new services it launched.
These include Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), a sector logically carved out of AWS’ public cloud that is isolated from other customers; and Direct Connect, a dedicated connection directly into AWS’ data centres, akin to how a leased line operates.
At this year's re:Invent, the cloud provider also released a slew of new offerings designed to put the minds of large enterprises at ease. These services provide intermediate zones for organisations that are not comfortable enough to use a public cloud model, as exemplified by the approach healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson is taking.
The move to accommodate the hybrid approach is a concession made by AWS in a bid to stay relevant, argued Jillian Mirandi, senior analyst with Technology Business Research.
In a research note, Mirandi said that the expansion of the AWS partner ecosystem through AT&T and Verizon; the launch of its second European Union (EU) region in Frankfurt to address data sovereignty issues; and the introduction of Directory Service to integrate on-premises Microsoft Active Directory or to set up new AWS-based directories; were all geared towards this strategy.
“These launches highlight AWS’ strategic shift to enter global hybrid IT conversations and its willingness to work more directly with large, traditional vendors,” she argued.
“The integration will allow customers to benefit from AWS’ highly scalable and cost-effective public cloud while leveraging on-premises data centres and private clouds offered by AT&T and Verizon.”
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