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Amazon Web Services (AWS) And Enterprise Cloud Adoption

The biggest barrier to enterprise cloud adoption continues to be security, but cost benefits are causing them to evaluate cloud options. While attending the recent Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent 2013 conference, I spoke to enterprise customers who described how they have benefited from AWS cloud services. One converted a $70K bid from a systems integrator for a hosted website and implemented it on AWS for less than $7K. Another customer estimated the cost of acquiring an on-premises business intelligence solution for $200K plus maintenance compared to under $10K a year on AWS. I believe that savings like this will prompt enterprises to assess and migrate applications to the public cloud while addressing privacy and security concerns.

While AWS has cornered the market for startups, it has upped its efforts to drive broad enterprise cloud implementation at the same rate. Taking advantage of its start-up experience, AWS is rapidly innovating for enterprises by harnessing a wealth of individual service components. Using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) as the glue, new capabilities relevant to customer needs are easily added to existing services. The benefits AWS has accrued from its experience with start-ups and progressive enterprises resulted in several new announcements, not surprisingly focused on large enterprise needs.

Amazon Web Services re:Invent Conference

Packed crowd including enterprise users

New offerings announced at the conference included:

  • Amazon WorkSpaces – virtual cloud desktops
  • Amazon CloudTrail – AWS usage reporting for governance & compliance
  • Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) – added Postgres support
  • Amazon AppStream – low-latency, interactive app streaming service supporting the mobile and game platform
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) – added instance families enabling more powerful performance
  • Amazon Kinesis – managed service for real-time data processing

Although all these announcements are important to enterprises, let’s discuss the three that are most relevant:

Amazon Kinesis:

Computing workloads have been a common use of clouds, especially when helping meet demand spikes. However, cloud-enabled social and mobile applications are accelerating the pace of data creation. Analytics of this data play a key role in obtaining benefits; as a result, cloud service providers are responding by providing the needed infrastructure and appropriate solutions.

Kinesis gives the capability to receive data from any streaming source (like social media or sensors) on a massive scale. Combined with existing services like Amazon DynamoDB (NoSQL database), Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) and Amazon Redshift (data warehouse service), Kinesis allows businesses the flexibility to create solutions that meet their specific needs — such as analyzing social sentiment and risk.

Amazon Cloudtrail:

Security and privacy are the biggest concerns regarding public cloud adoption that enterprise customers express to me. Data centers are the core competency of IT managers, and security concerns are used to promote private clouds, preventing applications from migrating to the public cloud and gaining the transformative benefits of greater agility and lower costs.

While there are business applications that may not be appropriate for the public cloud at this time, tracking every event gives users the capability to record usage for compliance purposes. Log files by themselves add limited value, so AWS has partnered with log management and analysis product vendors with features such as change tracking, security visibility and management of regulatory compliance. These features expand the number of applications that can potentially be migrated to AWS as it maintains a log of all API calls.

Amazon Workspaces: Many enterprises would like an opportunity to move from a traditional desktop environment to a cloud-delivered and hosted virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for better and cheaper device management. Amazon Workspaces validates offerings by Citrix, Microsoft and VMware that are not widely deployed. Access from mobile devices would allow enterprises an easier way to handle a bring-your-own-devices (BYOD) strategy. Combined with other AWS services, Workspaces could prompt enterprises to take the leap into VDI.

Summary:

According to AWS, re:Invent attendees were divided equally among start-ups, mid-size businesses and large enterprises. Amazon’s announcements should make life much easier for the company’s developer community and indicate that Amazon understands large enterprise customers’ needs. The presence of enterprise customers at re:Invent shows increased interest from this segment of the market and potential for Amazon to gather a higher market share at the expense of legacy IT vendors.

The stunning cost savings Amazon offers are turning the enterprise IT market from shunning public clouds to clamoring for them. If Suncorp and Dow Jones (current AWS customers) are seen as enterprise role models, there is little reason to delay cloud adoption. At the next re:Invent conference, AWS would benefit from running an enterprise track primarily focused on educating customers about the business benefits of adopting these technologies.

While AWS is the leader, Dimension Data, HP Cloud and IBM SoftLayer are all vying to gain new customers and will benefit from an increased enterprise cloud adoption led by AWS. Their challenge is to catch up with the broad portfolio that AWS owns and continues to expand.

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