Amazon's big cloud message: Ecosystem and everything on AWS

The key themes at AWS' re:Invent conference: An expanding ecosystem and lots of reference customers. Can everything run on AWS?

LAS VEGAS---There are two general themes that quickly emerge from Amazon Web Services' re:Invent conference: Ecosystem and enterprise customer wins.

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Just scratch the surface and you realize that the AWS ecosystem is growing rapidly and the plan is to have every key enterprise vendor---established or next gen---using AWS in some form. The other key theme is that AWS has the reference customers to convince entire industries to at least try IaaS as a gateway drug to shutting down data centers.

First, let's talk ecosystem.

What hits you walking through the vendor booths at AWS' conference is that the ecosystem has more than doubled in two years. What started out as an ecosystem in a few hallways has occupied a much larger space at the Venetian. It's a safe bet that AWS will outgrow its current space for re:Invent in the years to come.

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These ecosystem partners are flinging press releases out at a rapid clip. The list of partners are covering everything from security to mission critical apps to management tools. Other vendors such as Cloudnexa are busy signing up midmarket companies to AWS as a managed service.

On Tuesday, Amazon noted that Technology Partners Acquia, Emdeon, IMS Health, Informatica, Pegasystems, and Splunk are all powering their cloud services via AWS. That list of independent software vendors join Infor, the No. 3 ERP vendor.

AWS is big and only getting bigger. Yes, the competition has ramped, but so has AWS. When you compare AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google it's clear that the first two players have the ecosystem heft.

AWS has a wall of customers and how they're using the cloud.

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And now for the reference customers. AWS and Microsoft Azure can beat you over the head with reference customers all day, but the two rivals have different spins.

Azure has a better hybrid game if only because Microsoft can bundle its cloud in with System Center, Windows Server and other enterprise tools. Microsoft's cloud and software customers are likely to overlap. That said, AWS has its own hybrid partnerships with the likes of Equinix, NetApp and a bevy of others to land enterprises. Google will have to play catch-up on the ecosystem and reference customer game.

Rest assured that AWs will parade a bevy of customers out at its keynotes and presentations. It's hard to argue with a cloud service that counts Coca-Cola, Hess, Dole, Comcast, Unilever, Siemens, Novartis, Adobe and Conde Nast as customers.

But those customer accounts really are just data points to a broader theme. The message to the AWS devotees in attendance is that everything and every enterprise should have some connection to Amazon's cloud service. AWS seems to be headed in the right direction.