Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon, is a cloud-focused service provider. It pioneered the cloud IaaS market in 2006.
Offerings: AWS is integrated IaaS+PaaS. Its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offers metered-by-the-second multitenant and single-tenant VMs, as well as bare-metal servers. AWS’s hypervisors are based on Xen and KVM. There is multitenant block and file storage, along with extensive additional IaaS and PaaS capabilities. These include object storage with an integrated CDN (Amazon Simple Storage Service [S3] and CloudFront), Docker container services (Amazon EC2 Container Service [ECS], ECS for Kubernetes [EKS], and Fargate) and event-driven “serverless computing” (AWS Lambda). VMware offers a VMware Cloud Foundation service within AWS data centers (VMware Cloud on AWS). Enterprise-grade support is extra. It has a multi-fault-domain SLA. Colocation needs are met via partner exchanges (AWS Direct Connect).
Locations: AWS groups its data centers into Regions, each of which contains at least two availability zones (data centers). It has multiple Regions across the U.S., as well as in Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, the U.K., Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden and Brazil. It also has one Region dedicated to the U.S. federal government. There are two China Regions — Beijing (operated by Sinnet) and Ningxia (operated by Ningxia Western Cloud Data Technology [NWCD]) — which require a China-specific AWS account. It has a global sales presence. The portal and documentation are provided in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese and Spanish. The primary languages for support are English, Japanese and Mandarin, but AWS will contractually commit to providing support in a large number of other languages.
Adoption profile: AWS strongly appeals to buyers seeking agile operations, but is also frequently chosen for traditional styles of IT operations. AWS is the provider most commonly chosen for strategic, organizationwide adoption. Transformation efforts are best undertaken in conjunction with an SI.
Recommended uses: All use cases that run well in a virtualized environment. Applications that are potentially challenging to virtualize or run in a multitenant environment — including highly secure applications, strictly compliant or complex enterprise applications (such as SAP business applications) — require special attention to architecture.
Enterprises make larger annual financial commitments and deploy more mission-critical workloads on AWS than with any other hyperscale provider. This speaks to how enterprises perceive AWS as a strategic provider of cloud infrastructure and platform services relative to other providers in the market.
AWS has a broader range of customer profiles, ranging from startups and small and midsize businesses (SMBs) to large enterprises, than any other provider in this market. Enterprises using AWS benefit from the early adopters, which help to push new technologies into the mainstream, derisking such services and making them easier to consume and manage as a result.
AWS is the most mature, enterprise-ready provider, with the strongest track record of customer success and the most useful partner ecosystem. Thus, it is the provider chosen by not only customers that value innovation and that are implementing digital business projects, but also preferred by customers that are migrating traditional data centers to cloud IaaS.
AWS makes frequent proclamations about the number of price reductions it has made. Customers interpret these proclamations as being applicable to the company’s services broadly, but this is not the case. For instance, the default and most frequently provisioned storage for AWS’s compute service has not experienced a price reduction since 2014, despite falling prices in the market for the raw components.
AWS prioritizes being first to market with respect to delivering new services and capabilities. As a result, it is willing to launch feature-poor services or services without deep cross-platform integration, which it often defers to the future to address. The quest to be first to market sometimes results in services that need years of substantial engineering updates.
As the ambitions of Amazon’s CEO expand into additional markets, the boards of directors for companies in potentially threatened verticals have directed their IT organizations to avoid the use of AWS where possible. This may ultimately limit AWS’s success in some verticals, and may impact the associated ecosystem. IT leaders in these verticals should consider a contingency plan for board-level directives.