Amazon CTO: Cloud computing is defined by its benefits

There's a lot of talk that cloud computing is the next era of IT, but Amazon's CTO Werner Vogels argues that the cloud will only be successful depending on the benefits it offers.

There's a lot of talk that cloud computing is the next era of IT, but Amazon's CTO Werner Vogels argues that the cloud will only be successful depending on the benefits it offers.

Speaking at the State of the Cloud address at GigaOm's Structure conference in San Francisco on Monday, Vogels argued that "the cloud has nothing to do with technology," and that in essence, "the cloud is defined by all its benefits.

Although many benefits are obvious to any average computer owner (i.e. being able to access documents from anywhere, etc.), we all know that cloud computing isn't perfect just yet and likely won't be for a long time. Just look at Amazon and Google's outages back in May. If businesses are going to put their data and apps on the Web, they can't afford downtime.

According to Vogels, there are several key points that cloud computing needs to accomplish nows:

  • Must lower costs
  • Eliminate capital investments and constraints
  • Reduce operational costs and time-to-market speeds
  • Remove the "heavy lifting" in moving data, apps, etc.
  • Increase agility
  • Leverage scalability, reliability and security

These steps, Vogels proposed, should also lead the way to establishing "21st century" architectures that will allow developers to build higher-quality, more sophisticated applications for enterprises.

Many execs at Structure asserted that we are on the path to where enterprises are moving more and more of their businesses to the cloud.

Speaking specifically about Amazon Web Services, Vogels noted that AWS adds "the equivalent server capacity to power Amazon when it was a global $2.76 billion enterprise (circa 2006)" each day. AWS has also expanded to five regions worldwide, with a new base in Tokyo that was highlighted as businesses in Japan are more concerned about building "survival" apps following the earthquake and tsunami in March.

Additionally, Amazon is focused on building multiple availability zones on a global scale for backup purposes. Vogels offered the following (rather extreme) example): U.S. customers are normally served out of AWS's U.S. region, and that data is backed up in the AWS European region. If the East Coast of the United States were to ever disappear off the map, their customers could still be served out of the E.U. region.

In comparison to corporations such as Amazon and even new, smaller businesses that are building their clouds from the ground up, Vogels noted that most enterprises are buying their way into the cloud with software help from mostly Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.

Gaurav Dhillon, CEO of Snaplogic, said during the keynote that we're "seeing smart companies move their business tasks onto the cloud," and that these businesses want a "collection of services - not a stack." Even going so far as to label the shift to cloud computing as a "phenomenal revolution," Dhillon explained that the cloud needs to provide an "allocation of services that comes together to solve overall business problems."

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