So, not surprisingly, the announcements kicking off Amazon Re:Invent today had little to do with infrastructure. It just shows that AWS has expanded well past the point of being an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider, as Red Hat General Manager Alessandro Perilli noted on Twitter before the keynote started.
That also means increasing the number of businesses AWS competes with, beyond fellow cloud contenders Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform. (Azure had its own webcast conference, AzureCon, last week, with announcements including a container service and availability of an IoT suite.) Oracle was a particular target today when it came to the database realm, and a deal with Accenture could pit AWS against consultancies as well.
During the keynote, AWS also trotted out several customers that have entrusted AWS with major projects or their entire businesses. Key examples were MLB Advanced Media, GE, and the mobile payments startup Stripe. All served as evidence of businesses’ growing confidence in the cloud.
Here’s a sampling of what got announced today:
QuickSight. An analytics service that’s one-tenth the cost of traditional business intelligence software, AWS says. QuickSight runs quickly, true to its name, because it does all its processing in-memory, after compressing the data by a factor of 2 to 4. This process is called the Superfast Parallel In-Memory Computation Engine (SPICE), and Amazon will let other business intelligence services take advantage of it.
Snowball. This one isn’t even software; it’s a physical box. It’s got to be the most un-“cloud” thing AWS offers.
For massive data uploads, the kind that would take weeks to do remotely, Amazon already offers a by-mail service: You ship it the physical disks for loading into the cloud. Snowball is a prefab kit for the largest uploads. It’s a 50-pound box holding at least 50 TBytes, and it’s ruggedized. (AWS claims Snowball can survive a six-foot drop onto concrete but did not demo this live. How cool would that have been?)
Maybe the most important part is that Snowball is tamper-proof and uses a Kindle device for inputting the address, helping avert the anxiety over possibly sending terabytes of vital data to the wrong place. It’s a way to make these shipments simpler, but it also seems to be a peace-of-mind offering.
Config Rules. This service gives CIOs some additional control over jobs running in Amazon. They can now set up rules for resource configurations and trigger action if the rules are broken. Simple example: If everything in storage is supposed to be encrypted, then AWS can be set to apply encryption where it’s missing.
Database Migration Service and Schema Conversion. Could also be named “Take that, Oracle.” Andy Jassy, AWS’ founder and senior vice president, rattled off a litany of common user complaints against certain proprietary databases, such as lock-in, high prices, and stiff licensing terms (recall the recent flap in which an Oracle executive chastised users for doing security analyses of Oracle’s code).
With that setup, he announced these services, one for moving an on-premises database to the cloud, the other for converting a proprietary database to one of the open-source formats. AWS also announced support for the MariaDB open source database.
Accenture AWS Business Group. AWS is getting a hand in the consulting business by jointly forming this group with Accenture. It’s a service to help migrate enterprises to the cloud. Accenture Chief Strategy Officer Omar Abbosh took the stage, describing the group as “cloud sherpas” for the enterprise.
That was probably a nod to Cloud Sherpas, the cloud advisory group Accenture is in the process of acquiring.