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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.

The point of this is not to predict success for ClearSky, but to note that innovative technology solutions are now being developed that take the functionality, scale, and power of AWS as a foundational building block when designing new products. 

The bottom line

This year’s re:Invent indicates just how powerfully cloud computing is changing the technology industry. From my perspective, there are two companies setting the pace for the future of IT: AWS and Microsoft, which has shaken off a decade of somnolence to deliver a powerful and rich cloud offering in Azure. 

Both are delivering an enormous range of services, including integrated offerings that address key areas of where technology is going, like IoT, Machine Learning, and Big Data Analytics. Both AWS and Azure appear to recognize that full functionality cloud computing is the future of the industry, and whoever is the victor in this contest is poised to become the 21st century’s IBM, Oracle, SAP and Microsoft rolled into one. 

It remains to be seen how the established vendors will respond to this assault. Most have moved beyond denigration of public cloud computing in general and AWS specifically (as in this infamous example from two years ago when VMware’s COO derided AWS as something offered by a mere bookseller). The phrase of today is “hybrid cloud,” by which vendors mean a mixed infrastructure environment spanning public cloud and on-premise, and one in which they have domain expertise. 

However, the hybrid future envisioned by most legacy vendors appears to be one in which perhaps 80 percent of all applications remain on-premise and only a fifth reside in public cloud environments. In part, this reflects an assumption that legacy applications are architected and operated in methods unsuited to public cloud computing. It must be said, however, that it also reflects a rosy assumption by legacy vendors that IT organizational inertia will keep those applications rooted in environments congenial to and controlled by incumbent vendors. As the examples cited at the top of this piece indicate, that assumption may be badly misaligned with user direction. 

As I’ve stated many times, we are witnessing a sea change in the technology, one which will transform both vendors and IT organizations. For those unprepared to adapt to this sea change, the next ten years will be unpalatable and dangerous. For those who embrace it, though, the next 10 years will be glorious. The big question is: which side of the divide are you on?


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