Amazon Web Services kicked off its cloud-computing conference [in Las Vegas] with a display of its dominance in on-demand computing, and a workmanlike assertion that the effort is just beginning.
The gap between those two messages is widening.
AWS re:Invent has become, for all intents and purposes, the cloud-computing show for the world. More than 40,000 developers, technologists and marketers crowded through the halls of several Las Vegas ballrooms Monday and Tuesday for technical demonstrations and executive meet-and-greets -- a crowd of lanyard-wearing techies indistinguishable from similar confabs hosted by legacy giants like IBM, Oracle or Microsoft.
By researcher Gartner's estimate, AWS in 2016 accounted for 44 percent of the sales of infrastructure-as-a-service, or rented computing power and other tools that serve as the backbone for other programs. Microsoft clocked in at a distant cloud-computing second, with 7 percent.
Yet AWS continues to launch releases at the pace of a startup. Tuesday brought a characteristic display of Amazon's hunger to roll out products and services.
"At Amazon, we don't do things small very often," Peter DeSantis, vice president of infrastructure at AWS, said on stage Tuesday evening in an introductory speech
Amazon, during DeSantis's speech, announced that EC2, the basic rented processing power at the core of AWS, would offer a version for customers who want access to the full horsepower of an Amazon-built server. That Bare Metal service is available in a preview edition, the company said. So is GuardDuty, a new service aimed at detecting malicious activity on a customer's Amazon account.
For further evidence of Amazon's dominance, go upstairs from the main conference halls to the AWS Executive Summit, a series of panels, talks and one-on-one meetings for the C-Suite crowd, the top corporate executives that Amazon is increasingly trying to target as its services become ubiquitous among software developers.
"Every year I started seeing less and less hoodies and more suit coats" at AWS re:Invent, said Chris Wegmann, who runs the AWS practice at consulting giant Accenture, which partners with Amazon to sell cloud-computing services to large businesses. "It's gone from a very cool techie conference [to] now they're getting C-suite folks to show up."
Many pay for the privilege.
Companies basking in the glow of AWS's customer base paid $18,000 this year for a booth to display their wares on the show floor. The cost of expanded square footage and other perks went up from there. The event had 11 "diamond" sponsors -- deals that, at list price, cost $350,000.
Amazon this week added to its ample roster of big corporate users of AWS.
Turner, the Time Warner unit behind CNN, TNT and other news and entertainment networks, said it had designated AWS its "preferred cloud provider." And tax- and bookkeeping-software maker Intuit said it would use Amazon's artificial intelligence and machine-learning capabilities. Other customer names dropped by Amazon at the conference included Expedia, the NFL and The Walt Disney Co.
Amazon's deluge of new product announcements couldn't wait until the show opened on Monday.
AWS introduced five video tools aimed at companies that want to stream over the internet or store video broadcasts. The package, AWS Elemental Media Services, is built in part on the work of Elemental, the Portland startup Amazon bought in 2015.
Separately, AWS introduced software, called Sumerian, for developers to build virtual- and augmented-reality environments. The tools target a wide range of applications, from fully immersive virtual-reality headsets, to digital signage and web browsers, and is designed to enable people to create environments without detailed training in three-dimensional graphics or specialized programming skills.
The services, built using technology acquired from a bankrupt Swedish startup, bear a name appropriate for a company built around the mantra that it's Day One. Long before lending its name to a VR software tool, Sumer was a bronze-age civilization in Mesopotamia. Its bequests to humanity include cuneiform writing, pillars of astronomy and geometry, and the wheel.
Amazon has reinvented the wheel for many in corporate information technology departments. Its ambitions may aim higher.
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