Wanted: An Amazon “enterprise challenge”

enterprise IT

Amazon Web Services gets a ton of traction out of its 5-year-old AWS Startup Challenge in which itty-bitty companies show what they can do using Amazon’s cloud services. Winners of the challenge, which went worldwide in 2011,  get lots of free Amazon services and support while Amazon gets to boost its already-high profile among entrepreneurs and startups.

awslogojpegBut now that AWS is seeking credibility as a for-real platform for enterprise applications — a recurring theme at November’s inaugural AWS: Reinvent conference — should it offer a similar challenge for enterprise?

The suggestion was posed on Twitter by IT specialist Jeff Schneider, CEO of MomentumSI. 

Over the past year, AWS has launched a series of higher level services and partnerships with such enterprise software stalwarts as SAP. If you so desire, you could run your Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server and even SAP Hana database on AWS although for now, as Capgemini CTO Joe Coyle has pointed out, licensing policies by those enterprise players pretty much nukes their ability to compete there.

If AWS can encourage corporate execs to promote a contest for their in-house developers to build prototype mission-critical applications in AWS, an enterprise cloud push could accelerate. At GigaOM‘s Structure: Europe conference in October,  Amazon CTO Werner Vogels insisted that these enterprise apps are already taking off in AWS. Others disagree — maintaining that deployment of mission-critical applications in a public cloud is still a very dubious proposition especially in financial services and other regulated industries.

Some say this reluctance stems more from fear, uncertainty and doubt than from real issues with Amazon’s services. CIOs worry that AWS snafus in the consumer arena could impact their corporate services as well, although experts say well-architected IT services across AWS availability zones and regions mitigate that risk.

Then there’s the ingrained fear of change. “IT people worry they’ll lose their jobs because of cloud,” said Greg Shields, senior partner and principal technologist for Concentrated Technology, an IT consultancy. “I tell them, ‘you will lose your job because of cloud but remember, there’s a legion of former punch-card feeder people out there who are still working. It’s just that they changed. Cloud won’t make you lose your income, you’ll just be doing something different. You may do higher order architecting and thinking about what services make sense in the cloud and how to construct them to make them efficient and secure.'”

So, GigaOM readers, what do you think? Does Amazon need an Enterprise Challenge? Please use comments to weigh in.

Feature photo courtesy of Shutterstock user tommistock

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