Among the 6,000 attendees of Amazon Web Services' first user conference were representatives from competing cloud companies Google and Microsoft. But these companies didn't have big booths and announcements like many other companies at the show. In fact, they were being a bit stealthy.
Representatives from Google and Microsoft both said they were not authorized to speak with the press and that they were just there watching how the conference was organized and talking to customers about how they're using the cloud. While it may not be uncommon for companies to send workers to events held by the competition, the nature of Google and Microsoft's unofficial presence at the show points to the competition brewing in the cloud industry.
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While Salesforce.com has its Dreamforce event for software as a service (SaaS) and VMware has VMworld for virtualization, AWS's show is the first major show for an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider.
AWS's show had quite a startup feel to it, as well. Walking around the show floor there seemed to be a lot of startup and midsize companies. AWS is a natural choice for startups that are looking for an inexpensive way to spin up infrastructure, without having to invest in expensive capital equipment.
"I've been really impressed with the breadth of services available on demand" from AWS, says Aaron Kenny, a former McAfee engineer who is now CTO of startup eMeals.com, a website hosted completely in AWS's cloud that helps users plan healthy eating habits. "I just don't see anyone else in the market close to offering these types of services right now."
Jeff Bezos, founder of AWS parent company Amazon.com, even joked at the show that venture capital friends of his give him a hard time because startups need less capital investments because they can use AWS resources. "I have VCs tell me, 'Bezos, entrepreneurs don't need my money any more, you're killing me!'" he said.
Google, Microsoft and a variety of other cloud providers are looking to tap into that market, and use their existing relationships with enterprise customers to get an edge over Amazon in the cloud industry.