This week's cover of The Economist featured four giant squids -- representing Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon -- engaged in epic struggles. (The cover shows the Facebook squid fighting the Amazon squid, and Google wrestling with Apple, while I would have had Facebook vs. Google and Apple vs. Amazon, but I digress.)
Until recently, that same scenario would not have included Amazon at all, but now, it appears, the erstwhile online bookseller has become an enterprise computing power. Witness the company's first Amazon Web Services cloud computing conference, AWS re:Invent 2012, which took place last week in Las Vegas, and the story from the show on SearchCloudComputing.com, which looked at Amazon "throwing down the gauntlet" for enterprise IT.
The new 'big four' are involved in creating and propagating the computing models for the future: cloud services, social networks, mobile platforms and, in Google's case, everything else.
It's ironic, really, that the aforementioned squids are now considered the "powers that be," and not IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, et al, the companies with which enterprises are actually spending a lot of their money, at least for now. The new "big four" are more indirectly involved in creating and propagating the computing models for the future: cloud services, social networks, mobile platforms and, in Google's case, everything else.
The case for the public cloud
Amazon, in particular, was making a strong case for enterprise computing of the cloud, by the cloud and for the cloud at its conference last week. In the SearchCloudComputing.com article, Andrew Jassy, Amazon Web Services' senior vice president, attacked any vendor promising private cloud services as "cloudwashing," or taking credit for being a cloud services provider when they're really just peddling features of a more traditional product. "Those falling for 'private' cloud are not achieving their objectives," he said.
Amazon has not nearly satisfied everybody's questions about whether its platforms and services are ready for primetime. And AWS is still being dogged by questions of reliability. But note that re:Invent 2012 was the company's first cloud shindig, now six years after launching AWS. Amazon has built up this business the same way it did with books -- slowly -- and now it's ready to pounce.
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Harvard Business School professor Lynda Applegate has followed Amazon's history closely and written extensively about it in cases. At a conference earlier this year, she talked about how CEO Jeff Bezos, above all, is a "strategist, a really, really good strategist, who knows how to think long term, how to turn that into strategy, and how to get people around him who can execute," she said at the World BPO/ITO Forum in New York City. She cited Bezos' growth strategy as "planting seeds," and said that while he is "stubborn on vision, we are flexible on details."
Users are telling TechTarget that cost savings and efficiencies are the leading drivers for enterprise cloud computing. That describes AWS, which may not be for every company, or for every need in every company, but AWS puts Amazon in a position to dictate how enterprise cloud services will evolve over the coming years.