Over at the Hilton Hotel, Amazon brought the AWS Summit roadshow to Sydney. Featuring Dr Werner Vogels (Amazon CTO) and Simone Bronuzzi (AWS Evangelist) it prodided 3 streams of content for Executives, Architects and AWS Ninjas (!). I attended the Executive stream, which covered such things as Disaster Recovery and usage examples from NEWS Ltd, Vodafone and REA group.
I wont go into the details as all the videos are online at http://www.slideshare.net/AmazonWebServices. I recomend viewing the videos, however there is a lot of content there (over 12 hours!).
The one thing I was intrigued about was the posabilities for all companies. No longer are companies required to purchase and maintain servers for peak loads that remain idle for a majority of time. Now with the “elastic” methodology built into AWS, extra capacity is only a key click away, and you only pay for what you use.
This is very attractive for start-ups, as they can develop an app using AWS systems (like the server product EC2 and the storage product S3). So the hardware cost can be minimalised and if the product takes off, extra capacity is easy to add without large capital purchased or leasing of server banks.
However, AWS can also assist businesses of any size. AWS can scale up to super-computer size instances, so for large scale processing like rendering video, data mining, massive computations and what not can be purchased in an ad-hoc manner.
One thing Amazon was stressing in the presentations was the security of the AWS system, from both datacentre and network side of things. Aditional secuity of data and services is provided by the AWS Zones (areas defined by physical AWS server locations). Zones is another intresting idea, as the use of multiple zones means that multiple copies (or instances) of the data (or virtual servers) in different locations will protect the user if someone decides to put an anchor into a underwater data trunk line.
Another intresting idea Dr Vogel talked about is DynamoDB, a NoSQL service that is designed from the ground up for scalability. Given the issues many companies (classic exampel Twitter) faced when the user based streached their databases beyond their capacity, this represents exciting technology for business’s of all levels.
You do not have to spend money using AWS (a free service is available for low end users) and there is a plethora of server images or in AWS speak Amazon Machine Image (available in linux and windows) available for use. The actual costs of AWS has dropped, a point that the Amazon staff where proud of. They see reducing costs as an incentive to keep customers long term, an interesting and in my opinion a better version of lock in compared to the infamous IBM/Oracle style lock in.
Is Amazon AWS for everyone? No. For some business, having a cloud server is overkill, especially if all they need is to share a printer and net access. Government departments are prevented in keeping its data overseas, another problem with the AWS (as there is no Australian ‘Zone’, but even then they can use AWS for testing or other short term projects (servers for something like a policy launch for example).
However, the flexability of the many AWS services available means that many companies can benefit short or long term with using AWS.
More information can be found here http://aws.amazon.com/products-solutions/