AWS not buying into the blockchain hype

In announcing over 20 new features during his day one keynote at AWS re:Invent, CEO Andy Jassy's blockchain omission was deliberate, as he's not interested in focusing on the technology that is currently caught up in so much industry hype.

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Image: Asha McLean/ZDNet

On the official first day of AWS re:Invent, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy unveiled a slew of announcements, with over 20 new features and services fired out over the duration of his opening keynote.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning taking centre stage on Wednesday morning, and Jassy himself touting machine learning as the buzzwords worthy of its hype, one industry buzzword that didn't get any air time was blockchain.

Speaking with journalists following his keynote, Jassy revealed that AWS does spend a lot of time looking at blockchain, but it isn't something users should expect services to be focused on in the immediate future.

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"We have a lot of customers and partners who either build blockchains on top of AWS, or are building services to use blockchain on top of AWS," Jassy said. "We're watching it carefully."

"We don't yet see a lot of practical use cases for blockchain that are much broader than using a distributed ledger. We don't build technology because we think the technology is cool, we only build it if we think we can solve a customer problem and building that service is the best way to solve it."

According to Jassy, the vast majority of use cases that customers are turning to the blockchain for can be solved using other methods, most of which AWS boasts within its existing capabilities.

"There are other ways to solve those problems," he said. "We are very intrigued by what customers are ultimately going to be doing there."

Also: New AWS service will bring image recognition to real-time video

On the issue of a potential spin-out from its parent, Jassy said it's not something that is needed, as both Amazon and AWS have no requirement to have completely separate balance sheets.

"I've been at Amazon for 20 years now, and I've learned in that time to never say never about anything," he said. "But I would be very surprised if we spun out AWS because there isn't a need to do so.

"The company has been so gracious committing whatever amounts of capital we've needed to grow AWS, and by the way, it's required a lot of capital."

Also on Wednesday, AWS announced a handful of customer wins, including the NFL, the Walt Disney Company, and Expedia.

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Disclaimer: Asha McLean travelled to AWS re:Invent as a guest of AWS.