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Amazon Profits From Early Cloud Start

Darryl K. Taft covers IBM, big data and a number of other topics for TechWeekEurope and eWeek

Other vendors have arrived on the scene, but Amazon is reaping the benefits of pioneering the concept of cloud computing resources, says vice president Adam Selipsky

Amazon Web Services has leveraged its head start in the cloud space to address a nagging barrier to greater cloud adoption in the enterprise – the ability to bridge internal corporate IT infrastructure with the cloud in a secure, reliable and cost-efficient way.

Amazon Web Services has used its head start in the cloud space to address a nagging barrier to greater cloud adoption in the enterprise — the ability to bridge internal corporate IT infrastructure with the cloud in a secure, reliable and cost-efficient way.

The company’s release of the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) enables this and, hopefully, though Amazon officials are reluctant to say, helps put to rest competitor claims that Amazon’s Web services business might be more of an experiment by a huge retailer than the serious competitor the organisation has become, as quiet as it has been kept.

It won’t last forever, but it’s real

Amazon officials, such as Adam Selipsky, vice president of product management and developer relations at the company, maintain that Amazon’s head start in the cloud is “an important advantage” for the company. “Very few advantages are eternal or indeterminate,” Selipsky said. “But I don’t think there’s a substitute for the learning we’ve had over the last three and a half years.”

Selipsky spoke with eWEEK in a wide ranging interview at AWS offices.
Perhaps some will argue over whether or not Amazon even has a head start in the cloud, though the company was clearly among the first, if not the first, to generate revenue selling generic, horizontally focused cloud computing as a service. That translates to a head start.

Salesforce.com began pushing its cloud-based CRM solution earlier and has been very successful, but that was a more specific offering and another story. Since then Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, VMware and others have entered the fray announcing or pre-announcing products and strategies that leverage the cloud.

Selipsky echoed other AWS officials who display something of an “Aw, shucks” attitude to the company’s continued success in the cloud space. “We are surprised that there haven’t been more companies out on the market with broad, horizontal platforms that look and behave like ours,” he said. “AWS has had platforms and services on the market for more than three years now—since 2006. S3 [Amazon’s Simple Storage Service] alone has over 64 billion objects in it.”

At an event in New York in the fall of 2008, Mike Culver, a Web services evangelist for Amazon, said a very similar thing: “We were really surprised that we were able to take off as fast as we did and maintain our lead.”

However, going a step further, Selipsky said, “We see this shaping up to be a very big market. I think enterprises, SMBs and startups are indicating the direction they’re moving, and the cloud will be part of the IT landscape for years to come. In any large market there are going to be multiple winners. We expect to be one of those winners.”