AWS Re:Invent: 'The Cloud is the new normal'

Senior vice-president Andy Jassy touts larger customer Cloud deployments at the AWS user conference

Andy Jassy, Amazon senior vice president in charge of Amazon Web Services, at AWS re:Invent conference 2014

Andy Jassy, Amazon senior vice president in charge of Amazon Web Services, at AWS re:Invent conference 2014

The cloud is no longer relegated to handling ancillary jobs, but is quickly become the base for mission critical -- or even all -- enterprise IT operations, the head of Amazon Web Services said.

"The cloud is the new normal," said Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services senior vice president during Wednesday's opening keynote of the company's annual Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.

In order to test the Cloud, organisations might first try using it for ancillary hosted services, Jassy said. They then might use the Cloud as a launching pad for new services, rather than operating those in house, sidestepping the burden of moving legacy applications or data to a different environment. Next up for those testing the cloud might be to ramp up its use for mobile or analytic applications.

Increasingly, however, AWS is finding that organizations are moving entire datacentres, as well as their entire IT operations, to the Cloud, Jassy said.

An organization may have a lease coming up on a datacentre or need to do an expensive hardware refresh, and the pending costs or long-term commitment to infrastructure "that is kind of frozen in time," may cause it to more heavily consider the Cloud, Jassy said.

"This is a trend that is accelerating at a very fast rate," he said.

AWS' win of a government contract to run the services of the US Central Intelligence Agency in 2013 caused a lot of other organizations to take notice, Jassy said. "A lot of customers would say if it's secure enough for the CIA, it is probably secure for us too," Jassy said.

To this end, Jassy brought to the stage Tayloe Stansbury, chief technology officer for financial software and services provider Intuit, which is in the process of moving many of its core applications to AWS. Intuit employs 8000 workers, 3000 of which are engineers. It has 50 million customers and generates about $US4 billion in annual revenue.

The AWS Cloud is good enough for Intuit, evidently. The company first set up a few small apps tools to run online. Impressed with the results, the company then proceeded to move to the cloud one of its data centers that was coming up for lease renewal. Doing that cut costs by up to six times, Stansbury said.

In addition to cost savings, running on AWS brings Intuit a number of other advantages, Stansbury said, including the ability of developers to create services more quickly. if Intuit acquires a company that already uses AWS, the integration process goes a lot more smoothly.

Intuit runs 33 applications, 26 services and eight tools on AWS. The company's popular Mint financial adviser service now runs on AWS. Over time, the company will move all of its offerings to the Cloud, Stansbury said.

Other AWS customers have also come to rely almost entirely on the Cloud, including Condé Nast and News Corp. media companies, Suncorp bank, Hess energy company and a number of independent software vendors such as Infor and Splunk, Jassy said. Of course, one of AWS' big early wins was the Netflix streaming service.

In addition to customer wins and big-picture predictions, Jassy also unveiled new and forthcoming services on AWS.

Perhaps most notable is a fully relational database, called Aurora, aimed at competing with traditional enterprise-oriented relational databases from Oracle, Microsoft and IBM.

In early 2015, the company will start offering a set of tools to ease and streamline the process of writing and deploying applications within AWS, including AWS CodeDeploy, AWS CodePipeline and AWS CodeCommit.

The company also unveiled some management tools for administrators. The AWS Key Management Service eases the considerable burden of managing encryption keys that are used to protect an organization's data and applications.

The AWS Service Catalog gives administrators a central location for an organization's employees to procure AWS services from a central portal.

AWS Config provides a way to document how AWS services are used and configured, which could be a big help for organization that uses ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) or a CMDB (configuration management database) to manage resources.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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