AWS re:Invent 2021: Few new services suggest AWS is maturing (in a good way)

7 months ago 130

Commentary: AWS didn't capable re:Invent 2021 with caller merchandise announcements. Instead, AWS seems to beryllium trying to assistance customers marque amended usage of what they already have.

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Attendees locomotion done an expo hallway during AWS re:Invent 2021, a league hosted by Amazon Web Services, astatine The Venetian Las Vegas successful Las Vegas, Nevada.

Image: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

"However transformational AWS was backmost successful [its early] days, it chose a alternatively blimpish way for the astir important 2 hours of its year," Tom Krazit noted aft AWS CEO Adam Selipsky's re:Invent 2021 keynote. That's a polite mode of saying Selipsky didn't denote much. Sure, determination was the gee-whiz private 5G network (gee-whiz due to the fact that it's technically interesting, not due to the fact that millions of enterprises volition privation it), and it's awesome to spot continued innovation successful the company's ARM-based Graviton spot family, but everything other felt … samesy. 

This mightiness beryllium the champion motion that AWS is increasing up.

A caller benignant of innovation for AWS

This is not to suggest that AWS engineers are sitting around, lazily enjoying the spoils of years of work launches. (Disclosure: I formerly worked for AWS.) Far from it. As Gartner expert Lydia Leong stressed, "We're mostly past the days erstwhile a #reinvent would travel with a ton of brand-new large services. There are inactive IT markets that AWS hasn't eaten yet, but overmuch of what's being released present is incremental capabilities (which mightiness inactive beryllium awesome engineering feats)." No, it's not that AWS isn't "innovating connected customers' behalf," arsenic they similar to say, but that the signifier of innovation has changed.

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More innovation-through-integration, arsenic it were. Less "here's this caller happening you didn't cognize you needed [e.g., serverless]" and much "here are improvements to what we already offer." 

To wit … erstwhile was the past clip that AWS did not announce astatine slightest 1 caller database astatine re:Invent? (Charles Fitzgerald quipped during Selipsky's keynote, "30 minutes in. Still nary caller databases.") This time, AWS announced a bid of new features for existing databases to marque them incrementally amended (e.g., Amazon DynamoDB Standard-Infrequent Access array class, helping customers trim DynamoDB costs by up to 60%). This benignant of happening is arguably much customer-obsessed, to usage the AWS lingo, than yet different purpose-built database.

Taming the AWS complexity beast

It's large that AWS didn't "dive deeper" into merchandise proliferation, but AWS besides didn't bash overmuch to commencement organizing its chaotic messiness of 200-plus services. Redmonk expert Stephen O'Grady was wide connected this: "If AWS has a agleam aboriginal of higher level abstractions, arsenic I person argued they do, the aboriginal is not this year." O'Grady wrote astir this successful June 2021, arguing that "[I]t's been evident for immoderate clip that its existent marketplace dominance aside, AWS' rapidly increasing portfolio was a liability successful definite contexts arsenic overmuch arsenic a strength." 

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Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky delivers a keynote code during the AWS re:Invent 2021 league astatine The Venetian Las Vegas successful Las Vegas, Nevada.

Image: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is fond of saying that it's lawsuit obsessed, and, successful my acquisition moving there, this is mostly true. But it's arsenic true, astatine slightest from what I've seen, that customers are emphatically, unequivocally not asking AWS to rotation its ain work for each merchandise class known to humankind. But what customers are asking AWS to bash is to marque consciousness of its Byzantine array of services. Forrester expert Boris Evelson suggested that AWS should "lead with solving concern problems," to which dbInsight main Tony Baer responded, "A archetypal measurement would beryllium putting the pieces unneurotic alternatively than requiring customers to bash it."

Yet AWS didn't truly accidental overmuch astir work synthesis astatine re:Invent 2021. The closest it came was during Selipsky's keynote, successful which helium talked a spot astir vertical solutions: "Over the past mates of years, we've built abstractions oregon higher-level services that marque it adjacent easier and adjacent much accessible for radical to devour the unreality and interact with AWS crossed a wide scope of industries, from wellness care, wherever we've launched targeted services similar Amazon Health Lake to fiscal services oregon manufacturing oregon automotive." He went connected to speech astir AWS Automotive arsenic an example, and announced a fiscal services-focused concern with Goldman Sachs to physique a finance-oriented cloud. He past concluded, "We're going to proceed to physique much of these abstractions connected apical of our existing foundational services, collaborating with manufacture leaders connected caller offerings oregon gathering brand-new applications." 

All for the good. 

As I heard idiosyncratic accidental astatine re:Invent 2021 this week, "I similar to deliberation we are starting to 'rationalize' much than we are continuing to 'produce.'" It turns retired that specified "rationalization" is each spot arsenic innovative and arguably much important astatine this signifier of the company's existence. Enterprises not lone privation to fig retired however to usage the champion of AWS autochthonal services, but they besides request to brace them with their existing infrastructure, which is wherefore AWS Mainframe Modernization was the precise archetypal merchandise that Selipsky addressed and perchance the astir important happening mentioned during each of re:Invent 2021 (the Graviton3 chips excepted, perhaps). 

Yes, mainframes. Impossibly dull, but besides an enduring anchor holding enterprises backmost from modernizing. As the radical moving mainframes property retired of the workforce, AWS is throwing these enterprises a lifeline, helping them clasp a aboriginal built into the cloud. It's a positive, customer-centric approach.

Less truthful are the 200-plus services that customers are made to wade through. In effect to Selipsky's connection that "YES! [Customers] request each of these services," Duckbill expert and bête noire for AWS, Corey Quinn, wrote: "I guarantee you, portion AWS needs to connection them all, 'YOU' bash not request to cod them each arsenic if they were Pokémon, beloved reader.

Disclosure: I utilized to enactment for AWS and present enactment for MongoDB, but the views expressed herein are excavation alone

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