How AWS Plans to Speed Up the Cloud


Amazon Web Services is aiming to make the most of 5G telecoms by “embedding” cloud resources at the network edge closer to users devices. It will also help the global leader in cloud computing platforms to distance itself from competitors.

AWS Wavelength – a new service announced at the Amazon subsidiary’s ”Re:invent” conferenceOpens a new window in Las Vegas – features tools for storage, analytics, compute and databases that speeds performance by lowering latencies.

Such latencies, or network delays, occur when data and instructions traverse the connection points that separate devices like smartphones and sensors from data centers.

It’s among a host of new products, services and features trotted out at the conference. They include Outpost, which lets enterprise users run AWS on premises, and Local Zone, which delivers select AWS services to geographic areas.

With them, customers can exploit fifth generation’s wider spectrum of frequencies for applications that range from streaming video to self-guided machines and smart cities. They also can improve power consumption and reduce bandwidth.

Shorter hops

Currently, data that’s generated or consumed at the network edge must travel from a device to a tower and to an aggregation point – usually a network data center – before it goes over the Internet for processing and then returned. Each of those connections, called “hops” in the tradeOpens a new window , consumes the milliseconds that put a drag on performance.

Installing servers in the data centers of network operators cuts transfer times by taking links out of those chains. As a result, AWS claims latencies can be lowered from hundreds of milliseconds to the single digits.

That’s vital for emerging technologies like self-driving vehicles, which must parse and model sensor-data to make decisions in real time. According to AWS, Wavelength can improve speeds by 20x over existing 4G networks.

Larger footprints

Companies like Dell EMCOpens a new window already are using servers at the network edge to help large corporate users called enterprises connect remote workers and hardware. AWS wants to do the same for cable and telecommunications companies and their customers when 5G is rolled out in global markets.

The Dell Technologies subsidiary is partnering with network operators in major markets worldwide. They include Verizon, which is testing its mobile edge computing serviceOpens a new window in Chicago and intends to expand its 5G Ultra Bandwidth to 30 cities by year’s end.

British mobile operator Vodafone, South Korea’s SK Telecom and Japan’s KDDI also have signed on and will begin offering Wavelength next year.

AWS says Wavelength will service 69 zones in 22 regions, enabling worldwide coverage as the new standard gets rolled out.

Developer tools

To speed uptake and beat back competition from cloud rivals, AWS is pitching Wavelength at the development communityOpens a new window . It says users can get the full measure of 5G with familiar APIs that run applications seamlessly worldwide.

Mapbox and the Finnish augmented-reality specialist Varjo Technologies are putting Wavelength through trials. Varjo is using the service’s improved speeds to blend virtual reality with real-time image rendering to improve resolution for immersive computing applications. The apps can run without the need for dedicated local servers.

Mapbox’s 1.7-million-member developer community can benefit from the artificial intelligence that guides users around obstacles like traffic jams and road construction as they drive to their destinations. Company execs say Wavelength permits automatic updating based on data from millions of sensors, allowing customers to refresh maps in pages and applications faster with 5G.

The Amazon effect

As with its parent company’s personal digital assistant and subscription delivery service, the AWS data center push helps getting closer to the customer.

The Outposts service lets companies import cloud-ready rack servers for low-latency apps that AWS installs, maintains and updates. Local Zone lets users tap AWS infrastructure for faster processing of media and entertainment, advertising technologies, electronic design automation and machine learning.

With nearly half the global marketOpens a new window for cloud services, AWS isn’t content to rest on its considerable lead over second-place Microsoft Azure and stragglers Google, IBM and Oracle.

The measure of success will be whether lower latencies translate to faster transitions among corporate users seeking to offload more of their storage and computing infrastructure to outsource providers.