Enterprise adoption takes Amazon Web Services by surprise

Some observers might be surprised to learn that enterprise IT departments are using the infrastructure of the world’s leading online book retailer to add flexibility and scale to their applications.

Indeed, it comes as some surprise to Andy Jassy, worldwide senior vice president for Amazon Web Services, the cloud-based utility computing services company that has emerged from online retail giant Amazon.com offering storage, database and processing web services.

“We expected that the services would initially appeal to start-ups, because the value proposition is especially compelling for them; you don’t have to spend cap-ex [on IT infrastructure], and you can get to market quickly,” he explains.
“We thought some pioneering enterprises would kick the tyres a little, but that most would stand by the sidelines to see what happened. However, enterprise adoption is happening much faster than any of us expected.”

The biggest reason for this is the state of the economy, he says. “It is making enterprises think more imaginatively about how they spend on IT. [Since the credit crunch] we’ve seen not only an uptick in enterprise adoption, but more enterprises actively approaching us and trying to figure out how they can use Amazon Web Services.”

But while it might have taken his organisation by surprise, Jassy insists the company is well prepared to meet this enterprise demand. “We are enterprise-ready,” he says. “What enterprises ask for is pretty similar to what everybody is asking for. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a raft of services that we plan to add to make AWS even more appealing to the enterprise.”

Jassy points to the growth in the number of features of AWS as proof that here is a rapidly developing technology offering. Of particular interest to enterprises may be the recently introduced ‘reserved instances’ option that allows companies to block book resources in to meet peaks of demand.

That Amazon Web Services is being taken seriously by the industry can be seen in the long line of vendors queuing up to partner; a line that includes IBM, Citrix and Microsoft – to an extent. The software giant allows users to base their Windows environments on AWS, but a common complaint among customers, says Jassy, is that they are not allowed to port existing Windows licences over.

It is tempting to speculate that Microsoft is not playing ball, despite “clear and vocal” demand, because it has its own cloud computing initiative underway, based around the as-yet unreleased Azure cloud operating system. This is the sort of power politics that an enterprise IT supplier must contend with.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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