Analysis: Could financial services be part of the long term plan for the public cloud company?
Amazon Web Services today celebrates the 10 year anniversary of the release of its first services. In that 10 years the company has moved from a tiny arm of Amazon to a dominant cloud company that rules the market.
The evolution of the company can in some part be attributed to being in the right place at the right time with API based access to computing resources. Ian Massingham, UK technical evangelist for AWS, told CBR it has been a combination of two factors.
Massingham said: "It’s that initial maybe right place right time with the API based access to these computing resources and then making use of the familiar Amazon cultural model of letting customers define the direction that our innovation takes.
"Those two things combined together I think are why we’ve been able to build this today."
Massingham’s comment on listening to customers is something that the company makes a lot of noise about. Having attended the company’s Re:Invent summit last year in both Las Vegas and in London, I can safely say that telling people that they listen to their customers is something the company has got down to a tee.
Since the release of Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), the company has grown to over a million customers. It originally started by being adopted by developers with the company finding a niche in the start-up community. This role saw AWS helping them to innovate quickly by giving them access to services around queuing, object storage and resources.
Now the company can boast customers such as Airbnb, Capital One and GE and its focus has definitely shifted to those major enterprise customers.
This isn’t to say it has forgotten about the start-ups and developers. The company still positions itself as a cloud provider that wants to nurture the talent and operates pop-up lofts to aid this.
AWS now is in a position where it can launch hundreds of new services in a year and offers 10 times the computing capacity than the next 14 competitors, but that doesn’t mean that it is getting complacent or feeling the pressure.
Massingham said: "It might have been possible that we would have a few early wins and become complacent but I don’t think that’s the mindset within AWS, I think the mindset is constantly striving to do the best that we can."
That mindset of constantly striving forward is what has put it at the top of the public cloud market, however, at only 10 years old it is still learning.
Not everything the company tries will definitely work, for example isn’t a leader in the applications market where competitors Google and Microsoft hold much greater market share.
The company is not afraid to experiment and customers should expect the occasional ‘moonshot’ that may or may not payoff, however, it is wholly tied to the success of its APIs.
Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon wrote in a blog on 10 lessons learned from 10 years of AWS that automation is key.
Vogels said: "Once customers started building their applications and systems using our APIs, changing those APIs becomes impossible."
This is because the company would then massively impact its customer’s business operations, so it had to get it right. This essentially means that the company is tied to the APIs for the long haul, which in the fast changing world of technology may become a burden in the future.
Take Oracle for example, the company has a broad portfolio and while it is shifting to the cloud, some of this portfolio is a burden; Oracle can’t get rid of it. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that AWS may face the same burden down the road.
Although Massingham said that there is not really pressure for the company to continue innovating at the same pace, there must be some fears of a slowdown.
AWS has effectively taken on the likes of Microsoft, Oracle and others. Its pricing model has effectively contributed to the downfall of public cloud competitors. HPE for example decided to call it quits on public cloud.
It’s telling that many companies will say that they are not competing with AWS but if you look at the portfolio that it offers then it is easy to see that pretty much everyone is competing with them in some way or another.
Looking forward and the market will almost surely expect AWS to continue to steam roll ahead because if it doesn’t then Microsoft with its Azure cloud and the Google Cloud Platform will be ready to eat into the AWS business.
Massingham said that the plan is to continue to try and deliver services which make it easier, more cost effective and more secure for customers. Combine that with the belief that cloud is moving out of a period barriers to adoption and it’s easy to start painting a picture that sees AWS charging ahead.
Looking ahead customers will likely see more examples of businesses going all-in with cloud, large scale adoptions are a must for all cloud companies at this point in time.
For AWS specifically a strong move into the financial services market is likely with banks such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup all reportedly being approached. Once the regulators are on board then banks will follow suit and onlookers should expect to see plenty more disruption from the 10 year old cloud company.