AWS: web scale for the masses

Iain Gavin, UK and Ireland manager, AWS

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18 July 2014 | 0

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been developing functionality to flesh out its offerings and enable “businesses and developers to use web services to build scalable, sophisticated applications.”

Iain Massingham, technical evangelist, AWS, speaking at the AWS Roadshow in Dublin said that Amazon Web Services business was not created due to excess capacity, it was because the problems seen and foreseen by Amazon were common to many businesses, and therefore, there was an opportunity to do something different that would be of benefit to the industry as a whole.

However, in developing multiple services, from utility computing and storage services, to analytics and back-up, Massingham said that the Amazon approach is to have a large number of small teams working very closely. He cited what is termed the ‘two pizza rule’ — if a team is larger than can be fed by two good size pizzas, then it is too big.

This philosophy has been echoed by other large organisations where the mantra now seems to be agility and speed, with the emphasis on time to market and time to value.

Time imperative
This was reinforced by Iain Gavin, director, Amazon Web Services UK and Ireland. Speaking to TechPro, Gavin said that there is no compression algorithm for time, and it cannot be bought, therefore, anything that can speed up development, deployment and implementation of new services must be worthwhile.

“We can start building and get a customer going the day after they sign the paperwork. That’s a real enabler because it is a really quick time to market,” said Gavin.

With a broadening perception that economic activity is beginning to rise, companies are now looking to invest, and what has changed is the need to get there fast, said Gavin.

Procuring infrastructure is not where people are looking, they want to be able to have services and applications up and running as soon as approval and budget have been provided, he argues.

This has been the feedback from system integration (SI) partners and something that AWS has been able to take advantage of in being able to provide near instant infrastructure for organisations.

Ireland has a unique advantage for AWS customers too, insofar as the major EMEA infrastructure for AWS is located here. When this is combined with the fact that Eircom is primary connect partner and can provide direct fibre connections, it makes a compelling case for AWS usage. With a good number of local partners too, such as DNM, Version and again Eircom, Irish customers have significant support for whatever way they want to engage with AWS.

Balance of direct and partner customers is always changing, said Gavin, and there is no specific strategy to promote one over the other. This is not the AWS way, he asserts. The priority is to have the customer determine whatever model is most beneficial for them.

Open relationships
“It is openness around the customer relationship, and the customer will drive what they need at that time, whether solely relying on an outsourcer, or trying to build capability in house, or some mixture of that — there is no conflict between the various parties,” said Gavin.

Building on its platform as a service (PaaS) offerings, AWS has added the likes of CloudFront, Workspace, RedShift and more, being a content delivery web service, fully managed desktop computing service, petabyte-scale data warehouse service facilitating large scale analytics respectively. All of these services combine with database and S3 storage services to provide a comprehensive suite to suit just about any requirement, irrespective of size of organisation.

According to Gavin, RedShift is the fastest growing service, but that Kinesis, for real-time processing of streaming data at massive scale, and App Stream, the streaming service for resource intensive applications, are also ones to watch.

Gavin said that very large deployments are also becoming common. An example is the international hotel group Kempinski, who moved completely to AWS infrastructure.

“We are seeing huge deployments of servers, with people talking to us about 30 or 40,000 servers to be moved. We are an alternative to data centres,” said Gavin.

 

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