Amazon Web Services Does Developers Right

As its re:Invent user conference approaches in the fall, Amazon Web Services (AWS) wants the world to know that it is a developer-focused organization.

SEATTLE €” With its first-ever AWS re:Invent conference coming up in November, Amazon Web Services (AWS) wants the world to know it is focused on the developer.

As in so many platform battles, the way to the lead is through the developers that build applications and create businesses and services that run on that platform. AWS has taken criticism from competitors for not being developer-oriented enough. Essentially, the company has taken heat for lacking a true platform as a service (PaaS) play or for not having a traditional developer focus on a program that might be called the Amazon Web Services Developer Network (AWSDN) or some such.

But AWS officials say these potshots mean very little in reality when every day new developers are turning to AWS to host their apps and launch their businesses on the AWS cloud computing platform.

€œIt€™s ironic that we still hear this because, particularly in the early years of AWS, the majority of the usage of the platform and the vast majority of what we were known for, was being used by fast-growing startups,€ Adam Selipsky, vice president of marketing, sales, product management and support at AWS, told eWEEK. €œAnd fast-growing startups tend to be by developers, or at least to be a very high concentration of developers. So I think it is indisputably true that developers have created a very significant amount of the growth that AWS has seen since the very start. And I think if you look at the blogosphere over the six and a half years since we launched, there€™s been a very large amount of developer-driven blogosphere activity, which has been a significant benefit for us in creating awareness for our platform and acceptance to the platform. And I think developers have been absolutely critical in helping us create that acceptance. That€™s why we talk about them as an intrinsic part of our community.€

Moreover, Selipsky said he would €œdispute very strongly that we have anything but a maniacal focus on developers. I think many of the services and features that we€™ve created have been extremely developer-centric. One of many examples is we€™d been asked by developers for the last couple of years to provide a solution for them for caching€”a Memcached solution. And so last year we released Amazon ElastiCache.€

However, Selipsky also noted that AWS has actually produced a fair amount of tooling. €œWe€™re language-agnostic and we have full SDKs and toolsets and multiple languages ranging from Java, Ruby to PHP to .NET, and some others as well,€ he said. €œWe have a UI management console that has expanded to include all of our services and we continue to evolve that.€

In addition, €œWe€™ve created services that are really at the tools layer, such as Elastic Beanstalk, which really provides an €˜upload your application and don€™t worry about running it€™ environment€”which has expanded to include several languages, from Java where it started, to PHP and .NET, and that service is expanding quite rapidly at this point,€ Selipsky said. €œSo, all that being said, I think we have a lot more work to do in the tools space just because it is a very large space and customers€™ needs are evolving quickly. So I think that for several years to come, one of the biggest jobs we€™ll have is to continue to make our services easier and easier to use for a broader set of customers. But I think, if you compared us to the actual tooling that other companies have in place today to serve developers who are building and migrating applications to the cloud, we compare very favorably.€

Meanwhile, though, Selipsky said the AWS re:Invent conference will not be just a developer event. €œIt€™s broader than a developer conference,€ he said. €œRoughly speaking, it€™s evenly focused on developers and technical learning, and also evenly on IT department decision making. We€™re trying to strike an even balance between those two. So I€™ll say about 50-50. Then partners will play a role.€ Indeed, AWS is holding a separate day for partners before the official conference kicks off, and there will be partner solutions sprinkled into the main event, Selipsky said.

€œWe€™re going to try and make it a very meaty, substantive conference,€ he said. €œThere€™s hopefully going to be no puffery and an absence of vapid sessions. There will be a lot of deeply technical hands-on sessions. There will be developer workshops where they can take home code samples when they€™re done.€