AWS Launches Product Blitz to Win You and More Contracts


Amazon’s cloud business AWS leadsOpens a new window the market by a long way, but its share has flattened out for the past three years while its nearest rival, Microsoft Azure, has doubled its business.

These trends do not bode well for the Amazon subsidiary, especially in the aftermath of losing the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud computing contractOpens a new window to Microsoft, a loss some have attributed to spiteful intervention by President Donald  Trump.

So, during its recent annual conference for customers and vendors, Amazon Web Services unveiled a stream of new servicesOpens a new window as it fights back against its Redmond, Washington, competitor to win cloud contracts from big businesses and the military services.

The question is, will customers like you buy the new offerings in volumes that give AWS a bigger slice of the pie?

The figures tell the story: Since 2016, AWS has been stuck at 40% share of the public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a service markets. In the same period, Microsoft Azure has doubled from less than 10% of the market to nearly 20%, according to Synergy Research.

New products and tweaks

At Amazon’s “Reinvent” conference in Las Vegas, chief executive Andy Jassy announced dozens of new services, product improvements and tweaks. The aim was to present AWS as a “one-stop shop” fulfilling all a major corporation’s cloud needs. This strategy is part of a drive to capture contracts from the largest businesses.

Microsoft’s strength lies in leveraging its existing customers for whom it already runs large parts of their IT infrastructure – from Windows servers and Active Directory to Office software.

This strategy eases cloud migration data to Azure, which offers greater compatibility with these Microsoft products.  Microsoft has a strong track record of winning huge contracts. In addition to the Pentagon deal, it snagged a cloud contract with AT&T, the world’s largest telecom group with a turnover of $178 billion.

AWS kicked off its “Reinvent” conference with news of wins from Sweden’s Klarna Bank (turnover $500 million) and Best Western Hotels and Resorts ($6 billion). The strategy for AWS is to showcase its advanced technology and innovative tools to manage computing in the cloud, demonstrating its technical supremacy over rivals.

Chips, data and services

A major launch was the Graviton 2 microprocessor, developed in-house to compete with rival cloud servers using chips from Intel and AMD. The Graviton 2 has been described as significantOpens a new window , especially the claim that it will enable “40% higher performance at 20% lower cost, equating to a 40% improved “price/performance” ratio than previous technology.

Another big announcementOpens a new window was the introduction of a system for managing the Cassandra database on AWS cloud. Apache Cassandra is an open source NoSQL database system used to manage big data across many servers, thus avoiding a single point of failure. It’s deployed by tech companies including Netflix and Uber.

It’s an attempt by AWS to manage Cassandra in-house rather than relying on third parties. It will offer the product as part of its free tier, allowing customers to run a database efficiently using many different data centers worldwide.

There were six announcements updating SageMakerOpens a new window , a managed service from AWS that helps data scientists build, train and deploy large scale machine learning models. AWS claims that SageMaker is “the first fully integrated development environment for machine learning.”

Other developments in AI include Kendra, which helps enterprises build internal search engines using machine learning technology. Then there is Contact Lens, which uses natural language processing to analyze the sentiment of customer calls to contact centres.

The everything store

Twenty-eight  product launch announcement were made in two days at the AWS conference, with Jassy making 23 of them during his keynote speech.

It shows that AWS wants to be known as the “Apple of the cloud.” As Justin Warren, a technology analyst at PivotNine, toldOpens a new window Silicon Angle: “They are the everything store.”

“There’s a real signal to the enterprise that if you want to do cloud, there is only one place to do cloud,” Warren said. “For everything that you need done, you can get all of it in one place.”

This strategy distinguishes AWS from Azure, which offers greater integration with rival cloud providers through hybrid cloud services. And it may impress decision-makers at the largest companies that they should consider AWS as their main cloud provider rather than Azure.

But technical supremacy, however impressive, may be beaten by ease of use, which is what huge, sprawling corporations feel they get from Azure.