Structure 2013: Amazon CTO offers forecast for cloud market

The "cloud father" also shares some lessons to be learned from the evidently winning strategy at Amazon Web Services.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor on

Closing out the end of the first day of GigaOM's 2013 Structure summit, there might not be anyone better to offer some thoughts on the state of the cloud industry than Amazon CTO Werner Vogels.

Sometimes lovably referred to as the "cloud father," Vogels shared some tidbits about some issues pressing both AWS and the cloud market as whole at the moment.

See also: AMD exec at Structure 2013: The one-size-fits-all hardware era is over | Workday CEO on Oracle, Dropbox, and the CIO role at Structure 2013

Here's a snapshot:

  • Hybrid cloud models: We've been doing a bit of helping people look for the hybrid model. We know that datacenters will be around -- there will just be less of them. We've been investing more over the last two years to make it easier for customers to run applications both in the cloud and on-premise.
  • A "comfort" zone for adoption?: The comfort zone, there's a lot of focus around encryption. Many of our customers have been asking for more encryption tools, which we are providing out of our partner ecosystem. Many of our customers are already encrypting sensitive corporate and personal data. Customers can actually really protect themselves in a way that they would like to do.
  • On frequent AWS pricing changes: We need to make things simpler. On the other hand, customers also ask us for more skews. We're extending things in the direction that customers ask us for. You can't have one without the other. but we can do a lot better in helping customers make the right decisions.
  • Vendor lock-in debate: When we designed AWS, we made sure you didn't need any particular programming language or middleware to access our services. Also making it easy to get data in and out through really simple interfaces. I think that makes it really important for customers to focus on that simplicity.
  • Enterprise production workloads on AWS: There is almost no vertical these days that is not making use of AWS in a variety of forms. If you look at life science, they'll be doing collaborative workloads, clinical trials. Hospitality, we spend a lot of times in hotels. Examples run the gamut from Airbnb to the InterContintental hotel group's reservation systems.
  • International expansion (especially to foreign gov't agencies): We continue to evaluate those scenarios. If there are opportunities outside of the U.S., we would explore. We get asked to put a cloud in every country. Everyone wants Amazon to be everywhere. However, I think it shows a lot of the passion that our customers have and the way we help them innovate. In other countries, they would like us to be closer. And we continue to evaluate that.
  • On CIA customer bid (vs. IBM): If you have technological superior solution that customers will do a deep dive on it, they'll pick the right solution. (For reference, GigaOm Research research director Jo Maitland pointed out that Amazon's bid cost more financially-speaking than IBM's proposal.)
  • Cloud market landscape in the last year: We always knew this wasn't a winner-take-all market. The only reason for me to look at competitors or potential customers is why would customers pick another player to go with because that might teach me something about my services.

When Maitland pressed further about those lessons, Vogels remained slightly coy.

"Customers in general are pretty vocal," Vogels responded. "In that sense, the roadmap doesn't change for us that much. it's always about security and operational excellence."

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