Commentary: AWS did not fill re:Invent 2021 with new product bulletins. As a substitute, AWS appears to be attempting to assist clients make higher use of what they have already got.
“Nevertheless transformational AWS was again in [its early] days, it selected a relatively conservative path for a very powerful two hours of its 12 months,” Tom Krazit famous after AWS CEO Adam Selipsky’s re:Invent 2021 keynote. That is a well mannered method of claiming Selipsky did not announce a lot. Positive, there was the gee-whiz non-public 5G community (gee-whiz as a result of it is technically attention-grabbing, not as a result of tens of millions of enterprises will need it), and it is spectacular to see continued innovation within the firm’s ARM-based Graviton chip household, however every little thing else felt … samesy.
This may be the perfect signal that AWS is rising up.
A brand new form of innovation for AWS
This isn’t to counsel that AWS engineers are sitting round, lazily having fun with the spoils of years of service launches. (Disclosure: I previously labored for AWS.) Removed from it. As Gartner analyst Lydia Leong stressed, “We’re principally previous the times when a #reinvent would include a ton of brand-new main providers. There are nonetheless IT markets that AWS hasn’t eaten but, however a lot of what is being launched now could be incremental capabilities (which could nonetheless be spectacular engineering feats).” No, it isn’t that AWS is not “innovating on clients’ behalf,” as they prefer to say, however that the type of innovation has modified.
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Extra innovation-through-integration, because it have been. Much less “this is this new factor you did not know you wanted [e.g., serverless]” and extra “listed below are enhancements to what we already supply.”
To wit … when was the final time that AWS did not announce at the least one new database at re:Invent? (Charles Fitzgerald quipped throughout Selipsky’s keynote, “30 minutes in. Still no new databases.“) This time, AWS introduced a sequence of recent options for current databases to make them incrementally higher (e.g., Amazon DynamoDB Customary-Rare Entry desk class, serving to clients scale back DynamoDB prices by as much as 60%). This form of factor is arguably extra customer-obsessed, to make use of the AWS lingo, than yet one more purpose-built database.
Taming the AWS complexity beast
It is nice that AWS did not “dive deeper” into product proliferation, however AWS additionally did not do a lot to begin organizing its chaotic mess of 200-plus providers. Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady was clear on this: “If AWS has a brilliant future of upper stage abstractions, as I’ve argued they do, the long run isn’t this 12 months.” O’Grady wrote about this in June 2021, arguing that “[I]t’s been evident for a while that its present market dominance apart, AWS’ quickly rising portfolio was a legal responsibility in sure contexts as a lot as a energy.”
AWS is fond of claiming that it is buyer obsessed, and, in my expertise working there, that is largely true. However it’s equally true, at the least from what I’ve seen, that clients are emphatically, unequivocally not asking AWS to roll its personal service for each product class identified to humankind. However what clients are asking AWS to do is to make sense of its Byzantine array of providers. Forrester analyst Boris Evelson urged that AWS should “lead with solving business problems,” to which dbInsight principal Tony Baer responded, “A primary step can be putting the pieces together rather than requiring customers to do it.”
But AWS did not actually say a lot about service synthesis at re:Invent 2021. The closest it got here was throughout Selipsky’s keynote, wherein he talked a bit about vertical options: “Over the previous couple of years, we have constructed abstractions or higher-level providers that make it even simpler and much more accessible for individuals to devour the cloud and work together with AWS throughout a variety of industries, from well being care, the place we have launched focused providers like Amazon Well being Lake to monetary providers or manufacturing or automotive.” He went on to speak about AWS Automotive for instance, and introduced a monetary services-focused partnership with Goldman Sachs to construct a finance-oriented cloud. He then concluded, “We will proceed to construct extra of those abstractions on prime of our current foundational providers, collaborating with trade leaders on new choices or constructing brand-new purposes.”
All for the great.
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As I heard somebody say at re:Invent 2021 this week, “I prefer to suppose we’re beginning to ‘rationalize’ greater than we’re persevering with to ‘produce.'” It seems that such “rationalization” is each bit as progressive and arguably extra vital at this section of the corporate’s existence. Enterprises not solely need to work out tips on how to use the perfect of AWS native providers, however in addition they have to pair them with their current infrastructure, which is why AWS Mainframe Modernization was the very first product that Selipsky addressed and presumably a very powerful factor talked about throughout all of re:Invent 2021 (the Graviton3 chips excepted, maybe).
Sure, mainframes. Impossibly boring, but in addition a permanent anchor holding enterprises again from modernizing. Because the individuals working mainframes age out of the workforce, AWS is throwing these enterprises a lifeline, serving to them embrace a future constructed into the cloud. It is a constructive, customer-centric strategy.
Much less so are the 200-plus providers that clients are made to wade by way of. In response to Selipsky’s assertion that “YES! [Customers] want all of those providers,” Duckbill analyst and bête noire for AWS, Corey Quinn, wrote: “I guarantee you, whereas AWS wants to supply all of them, ‘YOU’ do not need to collect them all as if they were Pokémon, dear reader.”
Disclosure: I used to work for AWS and now work for MongoDB, however the views expressed herein are mine alone.