Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy used his re:Invent keynote in Las Vegas to talk up the depth of its cloud products compared to its rivals and how it’s targeting enterprises that want more prescriptive solutions, as well as going after an old favourite target in Oracle.
“Every year we think about what builders want,” Jassy said from the stage at the Sands Expo centre in Las Vegas yesterday.
“We have 140 services now and that’s not just the regions, availability zones, flavours of compute and storage and database and analytics and machine learning and messaging and people services – it’s also how much more depth and how many more features there are within each of these services.”
Jassy went on to tell a “true story that happened a few weeks ago” where apparently a senior AWS executive found himself sat next to a rival executive on a flight out of Seattle and was able to take a look at the PowerPoint presentation they were working on.
“What this presentation said was: ‘here’s our product strategy: we look at everything AWS launches and then we move as fast as possible to launch something in that area, it doesn’t matter if it has the same capabilities or features, it’s so that people can just check the box’, and analysts will fall for that,” Jassy said, making an unusual jab towards a community more used to charm offensives.
“Builders aren’t going to fall for that,” he added, “because it’s so inexpensive to try these services in the cloud it doesn’t take long for builders to know the difference in depth of these platforms.”
Here Jassy went into lots of detail across the areas of security, database, compute and, most of all, storage to prove its depth compared to competitors’ offerings.
For example, on database he said: “AWS has 11 relational and non-relational databases, which is much more than anyone else.”
Or on serverless computing: “If you really want to enable people to run true serverless apps it has to integrate and we have integrated Lambda with 47 services, the next closest competitor is just 17.”
Then, honing in on the AWS simple storage service (S3) product, Jassy said: “[It’s] the only object store that allows you to audit every access to an object, it’s the only one that gives you a daily report of all of your objects, it’s the only one that allows you to block public access to all of your buckets at account level.
“It’s also the only one that has the capability to look at sensitive data and see any anomalies with access patterns”.
From here Jassy really let loose on the “old guard of commercial databases”.
“The world of old guard commercial-grade databases has been a miserable world for the last couple of decades for enterprises,” he said. “That’s because these old guard databases like Oracle and SQL Server are expensive, they have high lock in, they are proprietary and not customer focused.
“Forget the fact that they are constantly auditing you and fining you for some licence violation, but also they make decisions overnight that are good for them and not for you.”
It’s worth noting that Amazon itself is an Oracle customer, but is in the highly public process of changing that, with Jassy tweeting earlier this month: “Amazon’s Consumer business turned off its Oracle data warehouse Nov 1 and moved to Redshift. By end of 2018, they’ll have 88 per cent of their Oracle DBs (and 97 per cent of critical system DBs) moved to Aurora and DynamoDB.”
Back on stage he neatly pivoted to talking about Amazon’s own cloud-based relational database Aurora, which he asserts remains the fastest-growing AWS service in history.
He went on to talk about new database variants the vendor is offering, including ElastiCache, last year’s enterprise graph database Neptune and the newly announced Amazon Timestream for time series data.
On Timestream, Jassy said: “[It] will change the performance of your time series DB by orders of magnitude because we built it from the ground up to be a time series database, it’s not a general store retrofitted to emerging needs.”
As the above tweet shows, Jassy is well known for his inability to resist biting back at rival and regular critic Larry Ellison, the Oracle cofounder, but it is interesting to note that he bookended his keynote by first bragging about his company’s clear market leadership position and ending with a statement about how successful leaders don’t focus on what their competitors are doing.
“A lot of times people get focused on the wrong things when they think about how to build sustainable businesses,” he said.
“The best way is not to worry about your competitors, or focus on your competitors, or the small things we can be distracted by. The most important thing by far is to listen really carefully to what your customers want from you.”
Second type of builders
Jassy went on to talk about a “second macro type of builder” from its core market of developers who “isn’t as interested in getting into the details of all of the services and stitching them together, they are willing to trade some of that flexibility in exchange for more prescriptive guidance that allows them to get started faster”.
In the past this has included products like the Elastic Beanstalk container for web apps, or SageMaker for simplifying the design and deployment of machine learning algorithms.
Adding to this portfolio of more off-the-shelf managed services, AWS announced Control Tower, Security Hub and Lake Formation.
The first of these is intended to simplify the landing zones process for enterprises making their first moves into the cloud.
Jassy said that this second type of user wants blueprints and best practice out of the box when they come to AWS, and that Control Tower “is the easiest way to set up, govern and secure a compliant, multi-account environment or landing zone on AWS” along with policy guardrails and analytics for visibility into this environment.
On a similar note he talked about how security leaders are looking to AWS for a single place to make sense of their security exposure across all of the software they use.
Therefore AWS launched Security Hub as a “central hub to view and manage security and compliance across an entire AWS environment,” which integrates with a bunch of best-of-breed vendors, including Splunk, AlertLogic and IBM Security.
Lastly, there is Lake Formation, a tool for simplifying the establishment of an enterprise data lake using a range of AWS tools and services.
Jassy said: “Everyone wants a data lake, but if you try to build a data lake, it’s hard, there are a lot of things you have to do: ready your storage storage, configure S3 buckets, move that data from disparate places and crawl to extract schemas and add metadata tags, then you have to clean and prepare your data and carefully partition and index the data to optimise the performance and cost associated with finding that data and running analytics.
“Then the hardest part of setting security policies and data access rules and encryption and access controls.
“So we tried to take that experience of working with so many enterprises building their data lakes and build an abstraction that makes it much easier for all of you,” with AWS Lake Formation.
This promises customers with the ability to set up a data lake in “days not months” with a point and click interface to identify data sources before automatically taking care of crawling schemas and setting metadata tags, along with a list of prescriptive security policies to put in place from day one.
Lake Formation is available today, while Control Tower and Security Hub are in preview.
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