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Can anybody catch Amazon?

Christine Burns | Aug. 27, 2013
Challengers to Amazon's dominance in public cloud services face an uphill battle.

But Amazon is also able to make a technical case to corporate IT based on its global data center presence, trusted brand, and leading edge technology included in its broad portfolio of services, adds Sebesta.

Forrester Research vice president, principal analyst James Staten contends that while the traditional hosting service providers like AT&T and Verizon/Terremark certainly have the reach in terms of the number of geographically dispersed data centers they own,  "not all of them are offering cloud services, so catching up to Amazon in that regard is not an easy or inexpensive issue."

Staten adds that Amazon has made a push in the last 12 months to pick up as many compliance, security and operational standard certifications as possible to help ease corporate IT's hesitation about both its security or management practices.  

AWS has achieved ISO 27001 certification and has been validated as a Level 1 service provider under the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS). AWS undergoes annual SOC 1 audits and has been successfully evaluated at the Moderate level for Federal government systems as well as DIACAP Level 2 for DoD systems.  (There is a full listing of Amazon's compliance credentials here.)

Microsoft has been working toward the same certification prowess with its Azure cloud platform, but Staten argues that Azure will not earn the same number of certifications as AWS for at least another six months.

Amazon also has a major lead in building industry buzz that attracts both ISVs and management consultants who can help build an attractive ecosystem around Amazon's cloud to make it more attractive to customers who sign on to dabble, but stay in Amazon's cloud because it's the place to be seen.  "I estimate that for every one ISV building an application on another cloud platform, there are 10 building an application to run in Amazon's cloud," Staten says.

Staten argues that Rackspace, working in conjunction with the entire OpenStack community, is the only vendor that might be able to rival AWS's ecosystem.

Amazon's weak link
The piece of the enterprise cloud implementation story where Amazon does not have a hard and fast answer is private cloud links and hybrid cloud implementation.  

Here is where analysts say that established managed service providers with relationships within enterprise IT (IBM, Savvis, HP) that are now offering private cloud services; and pure play cloud companies supporting hybrid clouds (GoGrid, BlueLock) have a chance to beat Amazon into the enterprise.

Amazon has tried to neutralize this type of criticism by establishing partnerships with companies like Equinox to provide a direct, superfast connection between private corporate assets and AWS, calling the connection a "virtual private cloud".

Amazon has no real intention to have on-premise private cloud services mainly because it is not viable within the business model it has established as the public cloud norm, Staten says.


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