AWS re:Invent 2016

Can any cloud company keep up with Amazon?

Last week’s AWS re:Invent conference celebrated the cloud—and Amazon’s dominance of it

AWS re:Invent 2016

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I spent last week in Las Vegas, along with 32,000 of my closest friends—or at least, with 32,000 other cloud computing devotees attending Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference. Packed to the gills, the event had the excited hum of a fast-growing industry confident it was riding the wave of technical disruption toward market dominance.

But amidst all the mechanical bulls, massive EDM dance parties, TV show premieres—not to mention all of the geeky, deep-dive technical sessions that form the backbone of the show—Amazon’s two main keynote sessions made it clear that the company doesn’t merely plan to ride that wave; it figures to own it outright. 

Andy Jassy’s AWS re:Invent keynote was all about the enterprise

On Wednesday, AWS CEO Andy Jassy introduced a long list of new features, including everything from new machine-learning tools to a variety of new sizes of AWS instance types and sizes, plus a super-easy, low-end service called Amazon Lightsail and a new AI implementation dubbed Amazon Athena. AWS Greengrass, meanwhile, was intended to bring the power of AWS to simple IoT devices with limited processing capabilities and dodgy internet connections in applications such as smart homes, agriculture and manufacturing, Jassy said.

The company also upgraded its Snowball data transfer appliance with the Snowball Edge, then pulled a major stunt by driving a semi-trailer onto the keynote stage to tout the new AWS Snowmobile, a huuuuuge new “exabyte-scale” data storage and transfer device designed to help enterprises more easily move even the largest databases into the cloud.

And that was only the first of two major keynote announcements.

Werner Vogel’s AWS re:Invent keynote focused on developers

On Thursday, the iconic AWS CTO, Werner Vogels, rolled out a whole raft of more technically oriented products and services, including AWS Shield, a new service designed to help protect its customers from DDoS attacks, and AWS Glue, a new data analysis tool. And then there was the AWS X-Ray debugging tool and AWS CodeBuild, a fully managed continuous integration service. The screenshot below holds a full list of the two day’s announcements. Though many of the individual products and services were impressive, sorting them out isn’t really the key takeaway from AWS re:Invent.

aws re invent schedule AWS

Instead, pay attention to the sheer number of new product announcements and forced-march pace of new upgrades and enhancements. And then couple that with the list of vanity metrics Jassy shared.

Millions of active customers, including

  • Coverage of every key vertical market
  • 2,300 government entities
  • 7,000 academic institutions
  • 20,000 non-profits
  • Thousands of system integrators

Then note that re:Invent has exploded from just 4,000 attendees four years ago to attracting eight times as many participants (not to mention 50,000 more folks watching the keynotes on Amazon’s live stream).

The real lesson from AWS re:Invent is that cloud momentum keeps growing. The continued growth of all the big cloud players proves it, but Amazon remains the big daddy of them all. Jassy claimed AWS is the fastest-growing, $1 billion-plus enterprise-technology company ever, and he quoted Gartner estimating that AWS was several times the size of the next 14 competitors combined.

Put it all together, and you couldn’t miss the industry’s growing sense of inexorable dominance in Las Vegas last week—nor how much fun the ascendant cloud players were having in disrupting the traditional IT model.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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