3 Takeaways from Amazon’s re:Invent cloud conference

Upon returning from my fourth AWS re:Invent, another jam-packed cloud computing conference in Las Vegas, I’m left thinking about what really stood out. Here are my three big takeaways.

The cloud is still in its early days

Over two days of keynotes, executives from the following companies were among those who made presentations discussing their use of Amazon Web Services’ cloud: General Electric, Capital One, John Deere, BMW and Major League Baseball. If people were wondering before the conference if enterprises are really using this platform, AWS re:Invent 2015 proved that they are.

With that being said, it’s still early days. AWS shared impressive growth statistics for its cloud, including 95% year-over-year growth for its virtual machine service and 120% year-over-year growth for its storage platform. Those aren’t the type of growth figures that well-established, completely mature products and platforms have. The cloud is still in hyper-growth mode. Companies are using the cloud more than they ever have – but one general theme from big enterprises is that they’re using the cloud for new apps developed in the cloud and designed specifically to run there.

AWS is in on IoT

With all the industry buzz about the Internet of Things, it’s only natural for AWS to jump into this market. But what exactly is the play here?

The company announced AWS IoT, a platform for connecting devices to AWS’s cloud, collecting data from those devices and analyzing it. AWS says the cloud is the natural place for IoT: Devices can connect to it from wherever they are, it has massive scale to handle the plethora of devices reporting data, and has the necessary computational capacity to analyze the data. Amazon is providing the infrastructure components to power the back end of the IoT. It’ll be up to developers to build apps to get value out of these things and other hardware manufacturers to provide the components needed to connect all these devices. 

AWS isn’t afraid to move up the app stack

The announcement of AWS QuickSight was an important one. On its face it’s a tool customers can use to analyze data they already have stored in AWS’s cloud using fancy graphics. Salesforce has taken the same approach with its analytics cloud.

But symbolically it means more than just that. AWS is an Infrastructure-as-a-service company – it provides virtual machines, storage, databases and a whole lot of other cool cloud-based infrastructure components. QuickSight is a Software-as-a-Service offering.

This isn’t AWS’s first toe-dip into the SaaS market – it has a virtual desktops product, a file sharing/collaboration service and an email platform. Will we see AWS play further in the SaaS market? Stay tuned to re:Invent 2016 (if not sooner) to find out. 

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