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5 things to watch for at Amazon cloud conference

Brandon Butler | Nov. 28, 2012
Pretty much anyone watching the cloud computing market will tell you that Amazon Web Services is its 800-pound gorilla. Which means that this is a big week for the company: On Wednesday in Las Vegas, Amazon kicks off its first user conference, called AWS re: Invent.

What is Amazon's partner ecosystem?

AWS has a robust marketplace of applications and services that are optimized to run on its cloud. It has management and analytics tools that tell you how Amazon resources are running in its cloud, as well as enterprise applications like SAP and Windows Systems Server 2012 that are hosted software stacks in Amazon's cloud. But what's the true extent of these partnerships, and how well integrated are these applications? 

Amazon has been somewhat quiet about its partnerships with big-name companies and even quieter on the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) front. It has announced agreements with Eucalyptus to ensure API compatibility with the company's private cloud solution, and BMC as a broker and support agent for Amazon cloud services. But what other partnerships will Amazon look to expand as it continues to push into the enterprise market? Perhaps the list of the sponsors of the show could be some indication. These include platinum sponsors Intel, Citrix, RightScale, Trend Micro and Xceedium, with other sponsors listed as CA Technologies, BMC, Red Hat, F5 and SunGard Availability Services, among others.

How super will supercomputing get in Amazon's cloud?

One trend from Amazon during the past year has been to increase its supercomputing and high-performance computing (HPC) options. Earlier this year the company rolled out new virtual machine instances that support cluster computing for high input/output (I/O) workloads, which are optimized for running databases and business analytics tools in Amazon's cloud. Providers such as Cycle Computing and others specialize in HPC products based on Amazon services. Just how high-performance will Amazon's cloud get and what does that mean for customers and the use cases of its product?

And another related topic to watch is how Amazon positions itself for developers. The company has already made moves in this area, with services like Elastic Beanstalk, an application development platform. AWS seems to be one of the go-to spots for hosting applications in the cloud, but it may be trying to become a place for developers to build and host applications as well, moving it more into the platform as a service (PaaS) role compared to its traditional infrastructure as a service (IaaS) model it has focused on. Just how Amazon positions itself as an application development platform, in which it would be competing with the likes of Microsoft's Azure, Google App Engine and VMware's Cloud Foundry, is another topic to watch.

What will Amazon say about the outages?

If Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla in the cloud market, then the elephant in the room is the service outages. The company has suffered three major outages in the past two years, including one this summer following major storms that ripped through the East Coast, and another after a piece of hardware caused a cascading memory failure. Amazon officials have said they don't expect to address this issue directly at the show, but there are a variety of sessions by heavy AWS users such as Netflix officials talking about how they have architected their systems for high availability and fault tolerance.

 

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