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Real world lessons from AWS re:Invent 2015

Bernard Golden | Oct. 21, 2015
Amazon Web Services’ signature conference continues to show how customers both large and small are solving their real IT challenges, which is one of the reasons it’s evolved into a must-attend conference.

Credit: @AWSreInvent Twitter account

Last week Amazon Web Services (AWS) held its yearly re:Invent and it was, as always, revelatory. As I said to one fellow attendee, you go to VMWorld to see the future of old IT, and re:Invent to see the future of new IT.

If you’re interested in the future of new IT, here are three things that re:Invent made clear regarding AWS: 

1. AWS goes mainstream 

Over the years, many people have denigrated AWS as a service primarily used by startups and SMBs. If ever that were true, re:Invent 2015 made clear AWS is now squarely in the mainstream of IT. 

The most obvious evidence of this was the size of the event – 19,000 attendees, up 50 percent since 2014. And the attendee look and conversational topics of hallway discussions made clear that this audience was largely made up of enterprise IT personnel. 

AWS took pains to hammer this home with keynote presentations by Capital One, GE, and John Deere, each of which vouchsafed their commitment to AWS. The GE CIO said "AWS is our trusted partner who's going to run our company for the next 140 years" and noted that it’s planning on shifting thousands of applications to AWS so that it can reduce its data center inventory from 34 to four. 

During his presentation, Capital One’s CIO said: “we can deploy some of our most critical workloads on Amazon.” This certainly contradicts the shibboleth that financial services companies will never use public cloud computing due to security or regulatory concerns. 

AWS also announced the creation of a joint venture with Accenture designed to help enterprise IT organizations build and operate AWS-based applications. If ever something indicates how much AWS is now mainstream, it’s the imprimatur of the premier global SI starting a company focused just on your technology (the last time Accenture did this, it was a JV with Microsoft called Avenade). 

Finally, making it painfully clear just how mainstream AWS has become, Amazon’s Andy Jassy cited its revenue. AWS is now a $7.3 billion annual business, growing at 81 percent. Just last May, Jassy said AWS was growing at 49 percent “and accelerating.” He wasn’t kidding. I wrote about AWS revenues a while ago and made some revenue projections, and I’ll likely revisit this topic; however, these numbers make obvious the fact that AWS is an enormous force in the enterprise IT space. 

2. AWS goes after the mainstream 

Jeff Bezos famously said of retail competitors “your margin is my opportunity,” and following this dictum has laid waste to companies like Borders and Circuit City. AWS has obviously taken this perspective to heart and eyed the much fatter margins typical of the technology industry, concluding it should apply the same scorched earth approach to legacy vendors. Many of the many product it made are clearly aimed at migrating applications and data from on-premise data centers and taking share away from incumbent technology providers. 


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