Updated: Amazon is not known for tipping its hand about what new cloud services it may have planned. so it was no surprise this week when Amazon CTO Werner Vogels teased Structure Europe attendees with promises of new things to come from Amazon Web Services that “you wouldn’t believe.”
Pressed for details, Vogels demurred: “I’m not going to tell you. If Steve Jobs can get away with that, I can.” So, if he’s not saying, we’re free to speculate. Here are five things to watch for from Amazon over the next few months.
1: More high-end analytics.
Within hours of Vogels’ appearance, Amazon announced that customers can now run SAP’s glitzy HANA in-memory database on Amazon for $0.99 an hour, plus $2.50 per hour if they want to spring for an extra-large EC2 instance. Elastic Block Storage (EBS) and data transfer fees are extra, which might seem like nickel-and-diming you if you don’t consider that a Hana appliance from Fujitsu can be had for “as little as” $12,000, according to this SAP blog.
This is an example of a third-party letting it’s IP run on Amazon’s marketplace. But also look for Amazon to offer more of its own analytics smarts much the way it’s come up the stack with higher end services like DynamoDB, Simple Workflow Service and Simple Queue Service, said Johan den Haan, CTO with Mendix, a PaaS provider based in Amsterdam.
2: Smaller bite-sized chunks of infrastructure.
If you want to rent Amazon compute firepower now, you pay by the hour. At least one new competitor — ProfitBricks — is selling smaller increments of scale-up infrastructure by the minute. As GigaOM reported last month:
While Amazon’s cloud epitomizes massive scale-out architecture, ProfitBricks’ focuses on vertical scale. Customers can elect to use 1 to 48 processor cores and 1 GB to 196 GB of RAM which they can consume and pay for by the minute — not by the hour. (Amazon EC2 instances come with 1 to 16 virtual cores and from 1 to 60 GB RAM.)
Update (November 14): There is other precedent for smaller chunks of consumed resources. CloudSigma, the Zurich-based IaaS provider used by CERN and the European Space Agency offers its resources in 5-minute increments.
Zev Laderman, founder and CTO of Newvem, a company that helps customers get the most out of their Amazon resources, is sure that smaller increments of consumption will happen soon.
“Some of that is already happening in the secondary market by companies like Strategic Blue and it also happened in the cell phone world when billing went from minutes to seconds,” he said.
3: More enterprise-y options.
Vogels disputed contentions by others at the show that big enterprises are not deploying important workloads on Amazon. I would agree that any CIO who says his company is not using AWS does not know what his developers are doing. You can run Oracle databases and financial applications or SAP All-in-One ERP on Amazon now, and things don’t get more corporate than that. Amazon’s sponsor list for its customer and partner conference in November includes such corporate stalwarts as BMC, CA and Red Hat.
4: Co-opetition/market segmentation with big software vendors.
Some see IBM, Oracle and others ceding the low-end of their markets — the small and medium businesses or SMBs — to Amazon over time. Where both of these giant software vendors offer “Express” versions of their big-boy products to SMBs, look for that work to flow more to Amazon. The vendors will say this seeds the market for their more enterprise-focused, expensive and self-hosted enterprise editions of the same products.
5: Deeper integration and more PaaS capabilities.
Amazon dipped its toe in the Platform-as-a-Service market with Elastic Beanstalk already and now some see it designing a sort of super-PaaS where customers can one-stop-shop for variety of cloud services from Amazon and partners — all of which would be aggregated and run on — you guessed it — Amazon infrastructure.
Sharon Wagner, CEO of Cloudyn, which helps companies avoid over-provisioning cloud services, posits an interesting scenario. Amazon could try to play off both customer and vendor needs by creating an exchange of web services. “Vendors will integrate into AWS’ new PaaS and expose [application programming interfaces] that developers can use. Developers can develop apps using compute, storage, CDN, database, mail or any other service in that marketplace,” he said. Amazon would bill for the overall purchase, take its cut, then pay the other vendors, Wagner said of this sort of mega-Heroku model — which happens to mirror the model of Amazon’s big book-selling business as well.
It’ll be interesting to see if one or more of these scenarios play out at the Amazon Re:invent Conference in Las Vegas next month.