Amazon To Everyone: You’re Toast

To every big-business tech vendor of pretty much any kind, Amazon Web Services has a message for you:

Goodbye.

At its annual Re:Invent conference, AWS dismantled pretty much every comfortable fallacy that legacy vendors have used to battle the public cloud generally and AWS specifically. 

“Security!” “Performance!” and other myths all crumbled, one by one, with customer testimonials and new product announcements.

And while some complain that AWS is becoming the Mother of All Lock-in, customers don’t seem to care. Developer Jeff Waugh declares that new AWS services should put a scare in companies that didn’t consider AWS competition. 

Game over?

No More Goodie Two-Shoes Cloud Service

AWS used to be that cute little service developers used to run dev and test workloads. But no one beyond Netflix would ever trust its data to the inherently unsecure, variable performance of a public cloud like Amazon, right?

Wrong.

Even if we accept that such myths were once truths (or partial truths), they certainly aren’t today. On stage at Re:Invent, Amazon trotted out the CIO of Capital One, a top-10 megabank. He was followed by the CIO of GE.

GE, for its part, will dismantle 30 of its 34 data centers, moving 9,000 workloads—all but “the most essential secret sauce”—into AWS. Pretty impressive, but maybe outdone by another unnamed customer that is moving 250 petabytes into AWS and shutting down all of its data centers.

One big reason they can do this is that AWS turns out to be really secure. At least, if you believe the CIO of Capital One, who declared that he trusts AWS security over his in-house security, and will be running the company’s new mobile apps on AWS.

For customers, it’s going to keep getting better, too, as AWS announced its new QuickSight business-intelligence service, and continues to improve its database, data warehouse, and other services.

Which means for competitors, it’s just going to get worse.

Speaking of QuickSight, Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond laughs that it must have set off “[t]he sound of gnashing teeth in Walldorf,” the German city where SAP is based. 

But it’s not just SAP. Oracle, Informatica, and every other tech vendor is in the cross-hairs of AWS.

In fact, there’s no area of software that AWS can’t reach, as Hammond went on to state

The only company that seems calm about AWS is Salesforce. Salesforce has its own range of cloud services but runs its Heroku platform-as-a-service, which it’s increasingly pushing to bigger businesses, on top of AWS. 

Salesforce App Cloud executive vice president Tod Nielsen recently told ReadWrite at the company’s annual Dreamforce conference that more often than not, Salesforce ends up getting deals referred to it by Amazon Web Services. (The two companies don’t have a formal agreement.)

We’ll see if that cooperation continues as Amazon pushes QuickSight to customers who might otherwise buy Salesforce’s Wave business-intelligence tools—or if the companies keep cooperating, since customers can connect Salesforce data to QuickSight.

But, But … The Lock-In!

Of course, not everyone is happy about AWS’s cloud ambitions.

For some, it’s a matter of losing business to AWS. And let’s be clear: They should be very, very worried. Gartner analyst Merv Adrian summarized the Re:Invent discussion of its new database services as a “full-on attack on negotiation tactics among legacy DBMS vendors.”

But for others, it’s a matter of principle.

Take Alessandro Perilli, general manager of cloud management strategy at Red Hat. Perilli is impressed by the pace of AWS innovation, but notes the “unidirectional freedom” that AWS promises. That is, AWS makes it easy to get data into its cloud, but not necessarily to get it out.

Or, as his Red Hat colleague, Krishnan Subramanian, styles it: “The future of proprietary lock-in is the cost to move out of a public cloud service.”

Roach Motel Or Ritz-Carlton?

But here’s the thing: No one is forcing enterprises into AWS. It’s convenience that calls them.

Or, as Perilli puts it: “Do you know how Google offers great food so engineers stick around as long as possible? Replace Google with AWS and food with services.”

Is there a risk of lock-in along the way? Of course. But that same risk applied to Microsoft, but it never stopped enterprises from pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into the enterprise IT giant, nor has it stopped consumers (or companies) from pouring cash into Apple. Convenience sells.

And let’s be clear: AWS is really, really convenient. It’s not a marketing slogan or a philosophy, something Apprenda executive Chris Gaun insists doesn’t really matter: “Customers find more value in dope — —- than tertiary IT philosophy concerns and AWS is some dope — —-.”

Worried much, Oracle?

With reporting by Owen Thomas. Screenshot by Matt Asay for ReadWrite

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