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5 things to watch for at Amazon's re:Invent cloud conference

Brandon Butler | Nov. 11, 2014
re:Invent kicks off Wednesday in Las Vegas

Amazon Web Services is in a unique position in the cloud computing market. It has been anointed the market leader in IaaS, with a scale and spectrum of services offered from its cloud that is unmatched by any other company. Researchers have recently estimated that AWS's Iaas cloud revenue is 30x that of Microsoft Azure's.

But in the past year AWS has faced stiffening competition from a variety of vendors. Microsoft is building up its cloud strategy, focusing on a hybrid cloud platform that is enterprise-ready. Google is priming its cloud platform for enterprise users by rolling out new features to take on AWS. Even VMware is looking to play in the IaaS market.

At re:Invent this week in Las Vegas, the third annual conference for AWS's users and partners, the company has an opportunity to reset the market discussion in the cloud industry, project its market-leading position, and continue to push the envelope with innovative new cloud-based services.

Below are 5 things Network World will be watching for at AWS re:Invent:

1) How Amazon deals with hybrid clouds
AWS has focused on being the dominant public IaaS cloud computing provider. Three years ago, AWS Senior Vice President Andy Jassy lambasted private clouds and said the public cloud can handle any workload. In the past few years that view has evolved though. Today, the company offers options for customers to connect their on premise data centers to Amazon's cloud. Examples include Direct Connect (a dedicated network connection between users and the AWS cloud), Virtual Private Cloud or VPC (which is a logically isolated section of AWS's cloud for users), as well as the AWS Storage Gateway (which manages data both on premises and in AWS's cloud).

The lack of a broader hybrid cloud strategy is the biggest knock that AWS's competitors make against the company. Microsoft has its Azure public cloud and Microsoft Systems Center private cloud management platform - which combines to seamlessly create a hybrid cloud. VMware has vCloud Air public cloud and the vRealize management suite for private clouds. HP has an OpenStack based Helion public and private cloud. The list goes on.

How will AWS address this issue at re:Invent? Will it acknowledge that enterprises are not willing to go all in on the public cloud and need ways to bridge their on premise workloads with the public cloud? Would AWS ever launch an on premise private cloud management platform? Or will AWS rely on its broad network of partners to provide these integration points for a hybrid cloud?

2) Price cuts and new virtual machines
Like clockwork, whenever AWS has big news announcements it cuts its prices. It would be news if AWS does not cut prices at re:Invent. So then, the question is by how much will its prices be slashed this year? AWS, Microsoft and Google seem to be in a race to the bottom when it comes to cloud prices. AWS already offers a substantial "free tier" for many of its services. How low will AWS prices go?


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