Server, meet hammer: It’s all cloud at AWS startup challenge


Four companies each won $100,000 worth of prizes at the sixth annual Amazon Web Services Global Start-Up Challenge in San Francisco on Thursday.

LogMyCalls, a platform for generating analytics from business phone calls, won in the consumer-marketing category.

Mortar Data, an open-source framework for creating Hadoop jobs, won in the big data and high-performance computing category.

Grand Cru, which has produced a customizable game for mobile devices, won in the gaming category.

TraceLink, which has an application platform for tracking pharmaceutical supply chains, won in the business-apps category.

An audience-favorite prize good for $5,000 in AWS credits — new for this year’s event — went to a three-dimensional mobile body-measuring app called Poikos.

However, while the companies and their applications might change each year, the rationale for startups deciding to use the cloud — and AWS, in particular — remain largely the same. K Young, Co-founder CEO of Mortar Data, which my colleague Derrick Harris wrote about in November, cited no fewer than four reasons why AWS fits with what his company does. As it democratizes hosting and lowers costs, Amazon is philosophically aligned with Mortar Data, Young said. It also has valuable tools, such as Elastic MapReduce and the Simple Queue Service, it already hosts plenty of data, and it’s a cinch to scale out.

The award winners drove their point home at the end of the event by walking on stage and smashing legacy servers with wooden hammers.

Not everyone is so anti-server, though. As I wrote last week, students and others partaking in a hardware hackathon at the Open Compute Summit devised ways to innovate with a rack to accommodate legacy and Open Compute servers, a Bluetooth alternative to the USB link between server and debug port and other equipment.


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