Amazon laid down the marker for future web development and Cloud Computing at AWS Summit London at Excel this week. Gavin Jackson Amazon’s UK managing director and Dr Werner Vogels Amazon’s CTO and Vice President of Amazon.com in charge of driving technology innovation, introduced the Summit as an event for sharing their knowledge and experience as business was now a sharing economy. Announcing the customers were the experts, the ones that were building the future. In their eyes the AWS product suite provided the context and the environment for the future to be built. Refreshingly they positioned their own journey as a working progress giving that sense that as we all move on in computing, we are all pioneers at the frontier….
Looking at AWS’s (Amazon Web Services) impressive list of early adopters (GE, Comcast, Unilever, Dow Jones, Quantas, Motorola, ITV, Maersk to name just a few) of their newer services it quickly became clear to the uninitiated that the AWS platform was now an important cornerstone to Digital Transformation for everything that moves here on in.
With 1017 new web service innovation product launches in the last year alone, Gavin Jackson confidently boasted that AWS’s growth had been unprecedented. Continuously innovative the AWS platform is heralding the fast moving environment of software development technology where development is very different; all constraints in web development have gone out the window, where different coding languages and obscure databases are facilitated on the same platforms to make connecting data that was impossible not so long ago and migration to the cloud an imperative for business.
To those not aware of what Amazon Web Services has been doing behind the scenes lately the AWS Summit, Amazons biggest European event ever, with approximately 5500 attendees, enthralled all those with tech leanings to a sumptuous menu of developer speak. Framed as a learning event rather than a sales event, someone like myself who has an intermediate knowledge of tech jargon, I was knocked back the Cloud first Digital Transformation case studies given the CTO’s of BP, DVLA, Ocado, Nando’s, Deliveroo, Trainline. I am now ready to admit that my evangelism of Digital will now take on new meaning as I am prepared to delve more deeply than ever into web development and organisational change.
Using the analogy of AWS products giving its customers Superhero Superpowers, Dr Werner Vogels announced to a packed auditorium of 2000 people that they were changing the way IT was being run, enabling their consumers become to experts. Claiming that in the past IT companies told the consumer how to build their systems. As their business model evolved they decided to give consumer a toolbox, the result, the consumer can now build for the future.
SUPERPOWER – FORCE FIELD
The superpower he called the Force Field related that security online is every businesses number one priority which enable him to introduce what he called AWS’s Deep Set of Cloud Security Tools, covering Networking, Identity, Compliance, and Encryption. Vogel started breaking down types of DDoS attacks, with DDoS Attack Trends, highlighting that web applications running of AWS are already protected by AWS’s Shield Standard. Giving protection from volumetric and state exhaustion attacks. With the security tools AWS provides, you can first assess your security requirements, build out that secure environment, enforce the use of templates, and performa validation activities
Then to top that was AWS Shield Advanced which provides a whole raft of security options to a granular level.
SUPERPOWER – SPEED
With Supersonic Speed the next Superpower analogy to be flaunted, Vogels nonchalantly positioned the AWS technology platform as the most robust, fully featured infrastructure in the market place. It’s Elastic GPU’s (Graphic Processing Units) which adds graphic acceleration to Amazon EC2 (Amazons Cloud Computing Service), whose pricing is way, way more cost effective than the traditional hardware, LAN (local area network) systems that most businesses still operate with is a clear evidential example of why most businesses will be transitioning to the cloud before very long. The need for speed is when computing demands the cheaper, faster, better, mantra given by Clare Dickson, Chief Information Officer, of BP the global energy business. Her case study highlighted how BP’s cloud first strategy to deliver enterprise-wide hyper scale computing through a programmatic approach, had paid immediate dividends when they ran their first application in the cloud went from 7hrs to 3.25 minutes to run; reducing 30%-40% in hosting costs, enabling the closure of data centres, more efficient and cost effective consumption based on the power of elastic capacity. Championing the process she articulated that BP bought cloud technology, but gained business innovation beyond “IT”. BP now sees their work with AWS as a collaboration rather than partnership, and actually used the “love” word to describe BP’s feel about Amazon as an organisation when relating the training and expertise they experienced.
SUPERPOWER – INVISIBILITY
As I was listening I thought the Superpower analogy was a bit cheesy but as Vogels went into more detail about AWS Lambda his quote that some customers said they felt like James Bond, with Amazon being “Q”. AWS Lambda was explained as the computing service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers. Part of AWS’s trinity of core cloud services (EC2, ECS, Lambda) Lambda is the next generation of cloud computing that everyone (that is everyone computer developer technically minded) is talking about. Lambda facilitates IoTs (Internet of Things applications) connections that are event based, meaning you can have a programme application on your home alarm which only connects to the cloud when the alarm is triggered. But it’s not just that, its scalable in seconds, executes your code only when needed and scaling automatically, from a few requests per day to thousands per second, whilst you pay only for the computer time you consume. Whilst this maybe hard to imagine; they are calling it server less, which belies the need for a constant live connect, liken it to hybrid electric cars that do not use energy when they are not moving; hence coining the superpower invisibility. Basically this developer environment allows your creativity conceptually more computer power than you’ll ever need no matter how successful to potential of your application.
Giving more detail, Vogels’ explained you can bring your own coding language, with the flexibility to call or send events; integrated with all other AWS services, giving the opportunity to build whole server less ecosystems. Flexible Authorisation, securely grants access to resources, fine-grained control over who can call your functions.
SUPERPOWER – FLIGHT
Your database engine is the core element of computer programme. With old world databases which are often over-scaled, punitive, and meaning companies are locked in to long term contracts and the reason customers are now moving to open source, Dr Werner Vogels announced Amazon Aurora as the fastest growing AWS service ever. Amazon Aurora is a fully managed, MySQL-compatible, relational database engine that combines the speed and reliability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open-source databases. Connected with Amazon RDS you are provided administration for Amazon Aurora by handling routine database tasks such as provisioning, patching, backup, recovery, failure detection, and repair. Making child’s of Expedia’s site that has an 35000 reads/sec.
SUPERPOWER – XRAY VISION
As Vogels continued, fatigue was setting in, but as I had been determined to gain the most from this online mega-giant that was having a pervasive impact on our daily lives, I set myself to unpack what he meant by X-ray vision. Then he introduced a range database query related products, (Amazon Athena, Amazon EMR, Amazon Redshift) that means we all can get in on the act of the digital phenomenon of BIG DATA.
Amazon Athena is an interactive query service that makes it easy to analyse data in Amazon S3 using standard SQL. Athena is serverless, so there is no infrastructure to manage, and you pay only for the queries that you run. If you’re not familiar with SQL you just could not really fathom what was being said. Except for the Aurora brought a new dynamic power to how you can use the information from your database. Amazon EMR is a managed cluster platform that simplifies running big data frameworks, such as Apache Hadoop and Apache Spark, on AWS to process and analyze vast amounts of data. Amazon Redshift is a fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud. You can start with just a few hundred gigabytes of data and scale to a petabyte or more. This enables you to use your data to acquire new insights for your business and customers.
SUPERPOWER – PRECOGNITION
“You’ve been doing it for years…Vogels asked who was a Amazon retail user? … and if there was anybody who was not could he speak to them after ” joked Vogels explaining this superpower is AI (Artificial Intelligence). This was about being smarter with predictive analysis, by using data to make predictions.
Effectively using 75% of the date to predict the other 25%. He highlighted 75% of Netflix sales are based on recommendations. Amazon the retailer, has billions of transactions to base predictions on inventory levels. Amazon has been doing this for 20years and we’ve all seen it.
With Amazon AI: AI is in the hands of every developer. Amazon AI services bring natural language understanding (NLU), automatic speech recognition (ASR), visual search and image recognition, text-to-speech (TTS), and machine learning (ML) technologies within the reach of every developer.
SUPERPOWER – IMMORTALITY
Dr Werner Vogels, wound up the keynote address quoting Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, who asked “how do you build a business that last a 100 years?…”If you stop innovating will be out of business in 10-15 years”.
Innovation is the key many of the major companies of our time did not exist 7 years ago, Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Snapchat, with digital technology being at the core of their business model. Digital Transformation is the Key to Survival. Companies are going all in. General Electric the only company on the S&P 500 that have survived for 40 years. One night you go to bed as manufacturing the next day wake as a software company. GE is a software analytics business. Survival is the company that can adapt to the new environment.
Last year saw for AWS over 1000 new features/services from customer feedback. Vogel’s iterated that the way forward is to align yourself with your customers, invest in your customer success, from Amazon’s perspective just selling to you is not the way. Amazon’s vision is to make their customers successful; give them what they need to be successful and a very cheap price.
For myself I advocate Digital Transformation in organisational development, hence my reason for being at the AWS Summit and being so attentive. I suppose I semi-expected to hear what I heard about the pace of technology and be not surprised to start thinking what can be conceived can now be achieved in terms of digital innovation to improve working and organisational processes. As web technology has unfolded, the gathering momentum can pass executives by, albeit because they are not predisposed to take a focussed view into things that seem a bit to technical and not their specialism; the fact is as Clare Dickson said of BP’s experience, they thought they bought cloud technology, but gained innovation beyond IT. Having being exposed to the many of the other case studies on the day, DVLA, Deliveroo, Occado, Trainline and Nando’s, for me the imperative for all business models is to apprise themselves of what AWS offers, dare to start rethinking your business model, and find out what you can utilise to innovate moving forward, and don’t stand still. Amazon is not. If they and their customers are any kind of barometer the kitchen is getting hot.