To what extent is Amazon Web Services growing in the UK and Ireland?
AWS has been in the UK for nearly all of its ten-year life and already has over 100,000 customers here. The company launched in 2006, and UK customers have been using it and adopting the cloud in very different ways since then.
AWS officially launched the UK as a region in December 2016. A region for us is a big investment – it’s a cluster of data centres that customers can use to store data locally, which is important for regulated markets like healthcare and financial services.
Also, having a UK region means you can turn on new applications where things like latency are an issue. So when you want the absolute fastest response times – near real-time response time – that’s easier to do now that we have a UK region, and we expect more growth here.
What trends have you noticed in terms of how customers in the UK view cloud computing?
As you’d expect, governments have been wanting to have their data stored locally in the cloud for some time, so we’re seeing an uptick there.
UK customers have adopted cloud in a very big way for many reasons and are looking at more complex applications, particularly when there is a requirement to store data locally.
We’re certainly seeing more regulated markets. Many of the largest companies in the UK are global companies, so AWS having a region here gives them another choice to store their data and get the best latency and so on. We have seen an uptick and we expect to continue to see an uptick from highly regulated markets and governments, but actually we’re very satisfied that the customers in the UK are fast adopters of technology.
How is the regulatory landscape influencing AWS’s strategy in the UK?
We kind of look at it the other way around, in that we are helping to form ideas around policy – we follow that very closely. When a new policy comes out, we work very hard to get that into our customers. Working backwards from our customers ourselves, we already have very tight relationships, and we spend a lot of time working with customers on what they need to comply with. We work very closely
with vertical-based regulators like the Financial Conduct Authority.
We tend to have a very keen eye on the future. We have good relationships with policymakers and we will always do the best by our customers. So we always make sure the relevant bodies have approved our own policies. For example, the Article 29 Working Party, the body that regulates data protection, has approved our data protection agreement.
Our own policies are already agreed with them, so we always work back with customers and have a very keen eye on what’s going on.
What are the major trends you see influencing the markets for infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service in 2017?
As a general trend, we see that customers – large and small – are using the cloud to move faster and to innovate. We’re seeing a new conversation around cloud computing centred on the question: How do I build my applications in an unfettered way?
Large companies want to know how they can innovate like a start-up. And start-ups want to know how to get moving very quickly. Innovation is a really key driver of this. You have to be able to fail in order to move fast and invent quickly. So the cloud enables companies to do all of those different things because the cost and risk of failure are so low, and you can use it to create a culture of innovation.
We really see that as being the first move that customers make with regard to cloud – using it to move
faster, innovate quickly and build the generation of applications based on the rich technology platform of AWS.
Customers very quickly create a new operating model for how IT is done when they do that. By using AWS, they realise that there is very little infrastructure to manage – in some cases there is no infrastructure to manage. And so they understand that all of their resources can be pivoted towards building things, tinkering and building businesses, and bringing new drivers of business value rather than maintainers of infrastructure.
That’s quite an alluring proposition for the IT universe, and they tend to use the operating model to migrate different applications over to the cloud. In many cases, customers are closing down data centres entirely and moving everything to the cloud.
Why did AWS decide to partner with a large diversity programme like the Women in IT Awards?
We have millions of business customers worldwide, and we have many, many millions of consumer customers worldwide, and they all benefit from a broader sense of ideas and diverse ideas. So for us there is that imperative to encourage diversity.
When I think about how the UK needs to build its stance for the digital economy and its place in the world, I really see that the diversity challenge is actually more of an opportunity to solve the broader skills gap. And I believe that women can play a key role in closing that gap in the future.
When I talk about this gap, I’m talking about the government statistics that 72% of large companies and 49% of SMEs say they can’t find the skills necessary to drive their digital business. We have to fill that gap in a number of different ways, and one of those ways is to encourage, excite and educate more women and young girls to pursue careers in technology. There is an absolute economic imperative for us train more workers for the digital workforce, and that has to come from women.