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Network World - Pretty much anyone watching the cloud computing market will tell you that Amazon Web Services is its 800-pound gorilla. Which means that this is a big week for the company: On Wednesday in Las Vegas, Amazon kicks off its first user conference, called AWS re: Invent.
Given the breadth of services it offers, Amazon is expected to be a major force in the cloud for the foreseeable future. But with its market-leading position comes questions about how the company runs its cloud, who is using it and what the future holds. From outages that have brought down Amazon services, to questions around the extent to which the company is seen as a trusted enterprise partner, AWS users and cloud watchers are keeping a close eye on the company.
MORE AMAZON: How Obama's campaign used Amazon's cloud
Here are some story lines to watch at the show:
What will AWS and Jeff Bezos announce? (If anything)
Amazon is one of the most innovative companies in cloud computing, Gartner reports in its recent Magic Quadrant. The company announces new features almost daily on its blog. Some of these are small, such as adding a "big data" category in its marketplace for feature applications that run in its cloud, to more significant announcements like price reductions, new virtual machine instance sizes and announcing that Windows Server 2012 is now available to run in Amazon's cloud.
Does AWS have a big announcement up its sleeve for its first user conference? We should know early as Andy Jassy, Amazon's SVP for AWS, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels and Amazon czar Jeff Bezos are all slated to give keynote addresses on Wednesday and Thursday.
Who are AWS customers? Are they Web 2.0 startups that do not want to invest in infrastructure, so they live completely in Amazon's cloud? Are they developers and engineers who are frustrated by their internal IT shop's ability to provide virtual machines for their latest project quickly, so they use AWS in the shadow of IT? Or are Amazon's customers enterprises that have official relationships with the company that are running their production and mission-critical workloads in Amazon's cloud? The answer is likely all of the above, but with an estimated 5,000 people attending the show, one thing to watch will be just who all these people are and what they're looking to get out of the show.
Perhaps even more important will be to watch who Amazon is targeting this show toward; that will be an indication of where Amazon wants to take its cloud. With more than 150 sessions across 16 topic areas, it appears there will be something for everyone.
What is Amazon's partner ecosystem?
AWS has a robust marketplace of applications and services that are optimized to run on its cloud. It has management and analytics tools that tell you how Amazon resources are running in its cloud, as well as enterprise applications like SAP and Windows Systems Server 2012 that are hosted software stacks in Amazon's cloud. But what's the true extent of these partnerships, and how well integrated are these applications?