The big news last week was Amazon Web Service’s entry into several new areas — log monitoring and admin with Logs for CloudWatch; collaboration and file sharing with Zocalo; and mobile application development with Cognito, Mobile Analytics and a new Mobile SDK.
First, the new logging tool, which I glossed over last week, but is an important example of Amazon filling gaps in its product menu. As the name states, the new tool works with the AWS CloudWatch network monitoring console to collect log file activities which can then be stored and analyzed in AWS Kinesis.
Log files can be valuable to the iterative practice of product updates and feature adds, but deriving that value can be tricky, Matt Wood, AWS GM of Data Science told me last week.
“As developers choose which features to do next they have to continuously experiment and measure what’s going on inside their app,” he said. “You need to see those results to quickly know what’s going on — the challenge is managing the associated logs is a pain point,” he said.
This new tool automatically moves logs from instances and aggregates them into a central service where exceptions can be set directly on those applications, he said.
Of course there are third-party products already doing some of that, and you have to guess that companies like Splunk, Logentries, and New Relic , which launched its new Insights real-time analytics tool just hours before the AWS news, are all watching this very carefully.
Asked about the competitive situation, Wood says this is a huge market opportunity with ample room for many competitors. That sounds very much like what AWS CTO Werner Vogels said at Structure a few weeks back that cloud is “not a winner take all” proposition.
Stepping from platform to applications
As for some of the other AWS news, my colleague Derrick Harris already pointed out that the new AWS Zocalo collaboration/file-sharing plans are further proof that Amazon knows it must be a broad platform player to compete against two mega platform rivals — Google and Microsoft, as well as two younger, well-funded but more limited contenders in Dropbox and Box. Zocalo thus targets Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, which are part of a much bigger portfolio of end-user products at those companies.
And that also means it is now targeting end users within companies, not just developers. End users are the people (a couple hundred million of them anyway) that made Dropbox a huge hit. You could argue that the developer-to-user transition was first evident by AWS’ announcement of WorkSpaces “desktops as a service” last November. (WorkSpaces actually launched four months later signaling that AWS may have picked up another habit of enterprise software companies — pre-announcements.)
The arrival of Zocalo — or more accurately its limited preview — reignited a debate that’s raged on and off since the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs called Dropbox a feature rather than a product (allegedly after Dropbox rebuffed his attempt to buy it.) Apple moved on to iCloud. Google has Google Drive; Microsoft has OneDrive. And all three of those companies have huge cash cows that can fund a price war with upstarts if needed.
To be fair, Dropbox and Box haven’t stayed still — both have added more collaboration capabilities and more integrations with outside products to broaden their horizons. Still, I can’t help keep returning to the theory that Microsoft should buy Box to give it a more coherent cross-platform document sharing and sync picture. Box gives business iOS and Android users a view of their shared Windows drives, for example, as well as cross-platform sync of their enterprise drives to the cloud. It also offers the sort of enterprise-y analytics that enterprise admins want. And, as already pointed out, Box also already works well with Yammer, which Microsoft bought for about $1 gillion two years ago.
But I digress. The key message here is that I agree with Gigaom Research colleague MSV Janakiram that AWS will continue to roll out end-user products — email? ERP? CRM? — as it seeks compete with Microsoft and Google — (and Oracle and SAP — for enterprise IT dollars. AWS was already building out a platform. But platform players like Microsoft and Google also end up going into the applications game.
Welcome to the fray, Amazon.
ICYMI: Structure Show starring Docker-in-chief Solomon Hykes
Few technologies are as hot as Docker these days — with tech giants from IBM and Red Hat to Google blessing the container technology big time. On this week’s Structure show (about half way through) hear from Docker founder and CTO about the perils, pitfalls of pushing this open source technology to wide-spread adoption.