The company Amazon has built in AWS over the years is an impressive one. The customers, the AZs, the PaaS and IaaS offerings, the price reductions, the stunning pace of innovation—all of it adds up to a position as leader in the cloud market. All of this was on display at the AWS Summit, along with the direction that AWS is heading from here.
Informal polls conducted during talks at the Summit indicate that most attendees are still beginning their journey to the cloud. My own analysis of the local Chicago market gives me reason to believe that there are still years to go until the bulk of enterprise compute and storage is run in the cloud. Getting there is going to be interesting. And as an active participant in that movement, a partner of AWS, I spent my time at the Summit looking for clues as to what that future state will look like and how AWS thinks we’ll get there.
What stood out to me were the talks focused on Serverless technology. Serverless is an offering that allows you to focus on designing software for your users in a stable, cost effective manner. Focus on design. Pay only for what is used. Forget managing servers. This approach unlocks a lot of value for customers by giving them simplicity, by giving them less. If technical debt is the primary source of pain for most enterprises, then I can see a future state where a Serverless architecture is part of the panacea.
The machine learning talks also gave a great deal of insight into AWS’s strategy to address enterprise needs. The esoteric demands of understanding machine learning and how it can be applied is a challenge, but not an impossible one to overcome. Every department in a large enterprise could be leveraging machine learning—for real time pricing strategies in marketing, risk modeling in finance, forecasting in sales—the list goes on, but the point is that this knife cuts horizontally across the enterprise. Where AWS is focused is in making it easier for the average employee to leverage this technology. While the costs of the services are far from trivial, success for AWS means they will make forays across the departments beyond IT.
For those who are enthusiastic about innovation, AWS, and the future state of the cloud, my suggestion from insights gained at the AWS Summit is to pay attention to Serverless and machine learning offerings. Apart from technology, the Summit was a useful occasion to stop and listen to the heartbeat of the market and to the thoughts of those members who comprise its body.