AWS Innovation Means Cloud Domination

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-04-19

AWS Innovation Means Cloud Domination

NEW YORK €“ Amazon Web Services kicked off its cloud computing service in 2006 and has since taken a commanding lead in the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) space by adding more and more services and amassing a number of customers. What's more, AWS has no intention of slowing down as the cloud is poised to take over the world.

At the AWS Summit 2012 NYC here, Adam Selipsky, vice president of sales, marketing and support at AWS, gave a brief history of AWS€™ innovations over the last six years, highlighting some of the more recent ones, including the AWS Marketplace, which AWS announced on April 19.

€œWe€™ve launched a lot in the past six years, but when we look forward at what we have to do next, it€™s blatantly obvious how much work we have ahead of us,€ Selipsky said. €œBut we have no intention of slowing down.€

Selipsky added that it is AWS€™ belief that €œover time, the cloud will replace company-owned data centers. Not overnight €¦€ He said he could not say whether it would take 5, 10 or even 20 years, but €œit will happen over time.€

Selipsky followed up on CTO Werner Vogel€™s lead in highlighting AWS€™ driving principles, which include putting security and operational efficiency first, being customer focused€”or €œcustomer-obsessed,€ and driving down internal costs and then passing savings onto customers. However, Selipsky added innovation as a fourth principle and displayed a slide showing the innovations the company has had since it launched, including 84 innovations last year and 28 thus far in 2012.

Meanwhile, for his part, Vogels spoke of how AWS has been able to help enterprise customers transform their businesses, and thus the company€™s enterprise business has picked up significantly.

€œWe€™re trying to break through the traditional models of enterprise software vendors,€ Vogels said. €œEnterprises have been held hostage by long-term software contracts,€ he said. However, with AWS€™ pay-as-you-go policy, customers are not constrained by contractual lock-in. €œYou should be able to walk away,€ he said.

AWS Enterprise Business Has Picked Up Significantly

Moreover, Vogels said AWS has dropped its price 19 times, with some customers seeing up to 40 percent savings. The increased adoption of AWS usage can be seen in the growth of its Simple Storage Service (S3). €œWe€™re heading toward one trillion objects stored in Amazon S3,€ he said. AWS also has nearly 30 services and its ecosystem continues to grow daily.

Ryan Park, operations and infrastructure leader at Pinterest, a content-sharing service and AWS customer, demonstrated how Pinterest€™s use of AWS€™ Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) has tripled and its use of S3 has increased by multiples. Park said if Pinterest had been responsible for its own infrastructure, it could not have grown so fast. The company uses several AWS services, including Elastic MapReduce, he said.

Overall, the Amazon cloud has enabled Pinterest to experiment, grow its team and reduce costs, Park said.

Meanwhile, Vogels launched into a discussion of how the cloud has enabled a series of transformations for users. One is that the cloud makes distributed architectures easy. Indeed, AWS offers templates for enterprises to use to build out their distributed architecture.

Thomas Burke, principal engineer at Washington Post Labs, then discussed the Washington Post Social Reader and how the Post developed its own distributed architecture to handle the app and other popular services.

Transformation two happens when the cloud enables users to embrace the security advantages of shared systems, Vogels said

€œApplications need to protect themselves,€ he said. €œSecurity needs to be an end-to-end thing. Security is our No. 1 priority. It will forever be our No. 1 priority. And we will always put our utmost investment in security.€

Transformation three is that the cloud enables enterprises to move from scaling by architecture to scaling by command, Vogels said. He noted that Amazon€™s DynamoDB NoSQL database service can help with this. DynamoDB is a high-performance, nonrelational service built for the cloud.

€œDynamoDB is absolutely one of the most exciting things to come out of AWS this year,€ Vogels said.

Meanwhile, Vogels said transformation four happens when the cloud puts a supercomputer into the hands of every developer. €œWith EC2, we became the 42nd fastest supercomputer in the world,€ he said. €œYou can get one of the fastest supercomputers in the world by the hour.€

Jason Stowe, CEO of AWS customer Cycle Computing, spoke of how Cycle Computing provisioned a 50,000-core utility supercomputer in the AWS cloud for Schrödinger and Nimbus Discovery. The global 50,000-core cluster was run with CycleCloud, Cycle's flagship high-performance computing (HPC) in the cloud service that runs on AWS. Replicating data across seven AWS regions while automating provisioned resources, CycleCloud run time per job averaged 11 minutes and the total work completed topped 100,000 hours. Schrödinger's researchers completed over 4,480 days of work, nearing 12.5 years of computations in a few hours, with cost under $4,900 per hour at peak requiring no upfront capital.

Transformation five happens when the cloud enables users to experiment often and fail quickly, Vogels said. And transformation six happens when the cloud enables big data without big servers. Vogels said business intelligence and analytics used to only be available to large enterprises, but now it€™s the basis of many startups and is used by young companies.

Finally, transformation seven occurs when the cloud enables a mobile ecosystem for a mobile-first world, Vogels said. John Brendsel, vice president of products at PBS, then discussed how tapping into the AWS cloud enabled PBS to enhance its mobile video capabilities such that mobile video is now 27 percent of hours watched on the network.

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