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5 key takeaways from Amazon's big cloud day

Brandon Butler | July 11, 2014
Amazon Web Services continued to push the IaaS market forward today by challenging established cloud players like Box and Dropbox with the company's own document collaboration platform and rolling out new features to its public cloud focused on supporting mobile applications.

Amazon Web Services continued to push the IaaS market forward today by challenging established cloud players like Box and Dropbox with the company's own document collaboration platform and rolling out new features to its public cloud focused on supporting mobile applications.

Here are the five biggest takeaways from Amazon's Summit in New York City today:

Amazon's cloud targets mobile applications

Amazon launched a number of new features to optimize its cloud for hosting mobile apps. The main new product is named Cognito and it provides shortcuts for mobile application developers. The idea is that there are a variety of core features that many mobile apps need that do not differentiate the app from others, says AWS VP of Mobile Marco Argneti. These include the ability to save user profiles and provide support across multiple devices, and save the state of the app when a user changes devices. Cognito provides these services so that app developers don't have to build them, and it allows the developers to focus on the truly differentiated features of their app. The logon credentials integrate with Facebook, Google and Amazon usernames and passwords. Here's a video describing the service from Amazon:

The move shows that in addition to being at the forefront of hosting startups and enterprise workloads, AWS wants to be the place to host mobile apps, too. It also shows Amazon turning into more of an application development platform as a service (PaaS) and Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS).  Amazon isn't alone though. Microsoft has a robust set of tools for hosting mobile applications as well. Time Warner Cable's NaviSite rolled out new Enterprise Mobility Management tools this week for managing mobile workforces, which VMware is heavily invested.

Amazon launches document collaboration and file sharing business

Amazon announced Zocalo, a new file storage, sharing and synchronization platform based on its popular Simple Storage Service (S3). Think of it as Box or Google Drive, but in Amazon's cloud and aimed at the enterprise market. Through a slick web interface, users can upload a variety of files — documents, PDFs, slides, spreadsheets and photos, among others  — and synchronize them across devices that have a Zocalo client installed on them. Users can share documents and can also provide and solicit feedback.

The move puts Amazon in direct competition with some darlings of the consumer cloud marketplace, like Box and DropBox and puts Amazon head to head with Google, again (those two companies compete on the IaaS cloud platform too). The move follows Amazon's launch of Workspaces, a virtual desktop tool it debuted last year.

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