Amazon warming up to hybrid clouds

It would have been sac-religious at AWS just last year, but the tide is turning.

Two years ago at the company’s very-first ever Amazon re-Invent conference in Las Vegas, the chief of Amazon’s cloud division Andy Jassy gave private clouds a bad rap.

The headline from Network World’s article the day after the conference: “Amazon bashes private clouds, launches virtual desktops.”

Jassy preached the values and benefits of a public-cloud approach. Private clouds offer none of the same benefits around scalability, initial cost and institutional security.

But in the past year or so Amazon has changed its tune somewhat. It’s not advocating for private clouds, but instead, it’s acknowledging that big businesses may have data on their own premises that needs to interact with public-cloud based services. Perhaps there is data that is too difficult to move to the public cloud, but a program using an Amazon database needs to access it, for example.

The first public inklings of this pivot to accepting hybrid clouds came earlier this year at the company’s San Francisco Summit where Jassy acknowledged private and hybrid clouds. Amazon, and other public cloud vendors, have toyed with the idea of private clouds in the past too.

Tools like AWS Direct Connect; Storage Gateway and partnerships with other vendors like Equinix and NetApp are all making connections between existing on-premises workloads and Amazon’s public cloud easier. This idea of connecting existing resources with new cloud-based ones is the new definition of hybrid. (READ: This is what the new hybrid cloud looks like).

Analysts are starting to take notice too: Technology Business Review researcher Jillian Mirandi mentioned in a note recently:

“Hybrid is quickly becoming a focal point of AWS’ strategy as the business moves into the enterprise market. With tools such as Amazon VPC, AWS Direct Connect and AWS Data Pipeline, customers are able to more easily extend on-premises IT through AWS . We believe that the majority of AWS revenue is driven by large enterprise clients, making it critical for AWS to invest in hybrid IT options.”

So expect more on this front from Amazon. It’s all part of a broader plan to make Amazon’s cloud more appealing for enterprise customers, which the company has done with other moves, like making annual pricing available for products from third-party vendors in its Marketplace.

And it’s being done as Amazon’s cloud may be leveling off in its growth. TBR estimates that Amazon’s cloud cashed in yet another $1 billion in revenue quarter, which was a jump of 48% from last year, but it was essentially flat compared to the previous quarter. To keep the growth curve positive, AWS is launching new services, like its mobile application development tool and file sharing service. (read more about those here).

But with Microsoft lofting impressive results from its cloud operations and Google biting at Amazon’s heels, the cloud market is as competitive as ever. That causes companies to do thing today that may have seemed unimaginable just a year ago.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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