Ian Massingham, UK technical evangelist for Amazon Web Services, says don’t listen to the suppliers spreading fear about the cloud, and insists that the company is big and safe, and that it is their rivals that risk becoming obsolete.
Amazon has spent the past decade or so trying to perfect its Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering. For example, new tools and capabilities are regularly added to its EC2 cloud service, which over the past 30 days has been used by more than a million customers.
Massingham is confident in the company’s ability to handle the vast majority of workloads and to some extent make enterprise vendors obsolete.
"We’ve added support for much larger storage, with even higher levels of performance that delivers 16TB volumes with 20,000 IOPS," he says.
"There are really only a tiny handful of applications that are too big to run on that. It’s in the same sort of territory as an enterprise storage array that you might have historically bought from a big enterprise vendor – someone like HP."
But despite its growth and ability to apply pressure to enterprise vendors, Massingham says that AWS needs to do more to explain the realities of operating applications in the cloud.
"I think it’s a perception issue more than a reality issue, but it’s on us to make sure that we are educating customers as effectively as we can," he says.
One of the areas it needs to focus on is security.
"It’s possible to be more secure inside the cloud than it is inside your own premises, but we need to educate customers about why that is the case and do a better job about that. There is a bit of a gap there," he admits.
The company’s disruptive success is resulting in a backlash of negative messaging from some companies, which is designed to protect their interests.
"It’s not a good thing for big IT vendors if their customers are making use of AWS," Massingham explains. "It’ll cost (the customers) less and provide greater agility, which you won’t get if you’re relying on infrastructure that you have to plan and buy upfront.
"You’ve got a lot of vested interests on the other half of the competitive landscape that is constantly pumping out messaging that says you can’t trust this, that this is a really bad thing. (But) that’s not the case.
"If you’ve got a large revenue line and high margins that you need to defend then you are going to do that."
By building new features AWS drives consumption on the platform. This gives it an opportunity to optimise its supply chain and minimise costs, which it then passes onto its customers.
This is underpinned by the scale at which is operates. Massingham says that the number of nodes on the EC2 platform is towards 10 million – something that doesn’t exist for most organisations.
Although it has never been easier for developers to create software that has lots of functionality, with a raft of tools that make it easy, there are still three things that are hard to achieve.
"(They) are robustness in terms of reliability – dealing with failure states in your application and back end – and scalability: it is easy when you have 10 users, a 100,000 is okay, but a 100 million is totally different.
"Lastly, you have security: making sure you’ve got the right structure to protect the privacy, confidentiality and integrity of data that you might store as part of your application. Those three things are still hard to do. No matter how easy it is to build a glossy interface, doing those things well is very difficult."
For its part, AWS is using the cloud to address the developers’ needs to help them focus on the parts of the application that are differentiated.
It is concentrating on the heavy lifting to take away elements such as data synchronisation, authentication at scale and other factors with a portfolio of services.
Massingham says that this tooling ability means companies no longer need to have a long-term roadmap.
"Now you have an agile and much shorter-term horizon in terms of the planning of features," he explains. "Our customers and end developers of these apps deliver applications faster and in smaller increments.
"I think they’ll continue doing that, and because all of their competitors are doing the same you get a natural model where innovation is delivered more quickly and it’s more aligned to the needs of customers."