Amazon Web Services re:Invent 2013


It was a busy week at AWS re:Invent 2013. Amazon Web Services’ second annual cloud conference was very well attended with over 9000 conference-goers. Geoff Cubitt, co-CEO of Roundarch Isobar, was interviewed at the conference and discussed how we leverage AWS services and the advantages it offers. Paul Buranosky worked the booth promoting our work including the attention-getting adidas miCoach Elite and iPad app. Parag Thakker and Colin McGuigan presented a case study on Redshift and Big Data based on our experiences with the Carat Radar project alongside NASDAQ and HauteLook (Nordstrom). Finally, we attended many excellent technical sessions.

The top three AWS announcements included a long-awaited virtual desktop offering called Workspaces, an application streaming solution called AppStream, and a realtime data ingestion and processing service called Kinesis.

AppStream has some very interesting potential to enable rich mobile apps that break the CPU and GPU barrier of the devices themselves by harnessing the power of the cloud. Bandwidth and network latency will be a limiting factor in some cases however. Kinesis has some exciting applications in the marketing, social media and financial arenas by enabling realtime processing of data streams. The ability to react to user events in near-realtime across multiple channels paves the way for even more responsive, behavior-driven applications and targeted marketing.

The release of NASA NEX Public Data Sets should spawn some interesting applications, as they provide medium to high resolution satellite imagery of the earth as fresh as every one to two days. Amazon is clearly positioning themselves as an innovation-enabler. By providing rich data, the tools to process it and the infrastructure to build and host complex applications, they create an environment where ideas can be born and realized.

The re:Invent conference is aptly named. AWS is in the business of reinventing how we do business. They are disrupting the traditional software space at an astonishing rate, including everything from databases to data warehousing, distributed computing, hosting, content delivery networks, media transcoding and delivery, mobile applications, enterprise search, and desktop and server virtualization. In doing so, they have enabled a multitude of startups to be born that would never have seen the light of day. Could anyone have imagined that DropCam – a webcam that streams 24/7 to the cloud – would ever get off the ground given the compute and bandwidth costs?

AWS isn’t just birthing startups however. The days of questioning the feasibility of the cloud for the enterprise are over. Gartner is predicting that cloud computing will become the bulk of IT spend by 2016 and that 50% of enterprises will be using a hybrid cloud – a combination of on-premise and cloud infrastructure and services. And when it comes to cloud providers, AWS is leading the pack; they are far ahead of the competition in the latest Magic Quadrant.

There are a number of signs that these predictions are on target. There is an increased global adoption of the cloud, something we witnessed first hand with the number of international attendees we spoke with at our booth. With FedRamp certification for the AWS GovCloud offering announced earlier this year, Amazon has passed stringent requirements for doing business with the government. AWS continues to strengthen its support for a variety of compliance standards including HIPAA, SOC 1, 2 and 3, PCI DSS and others, addressing concerns for a variety of industry sectors. The popularity of the Redshift data warehouse service launched in the first quarter of 2013 shows that enterprises are ready to move their big data to the cloud. Lastly, the high demand for desktop virtualization resulted in the launch of Workspaces.

AWS has truly stepped beyond their origins as an Infrastructure as a Service provider (IaaS) by providing rich and powerful Platform as a Service (PaaS) tools. They have lowered the barrier to entry for complex application development by reducing upfront costs, reducing time to market and by providing a wide variety of services needed for end-to-end solutions.

AWS leads by example. By encouraging rapid innovation within their organization, they pass on the tools for innovation to their customers. Taking a fail-fast approach to development is encouraged, as the risk and cost of failure is low, but the upside of success is high. There is a whole new world of technology and skills required to operate in the cloud, but harnessing its potential enables ever better client solutions that exceed expectations.


Check out the “Redshift in Action” presentation by Parag Thakker and Colin McGuigan.


Silicon Angle’s video coverage of the Amazon Web Services conference with Geoff Cubitt.