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Amazon CTO Werner Vogels Shares Nine Patterns of Cloud Adoption

| by Daniel Bryant Follow 806 Followers on Apr 19, 2015. Estimated reading time: 4 minutes |

At the Amazon Web Services AWS Summit London keynote, Werner Vogels shared nine patterns of cloud adoption that AWS have observed from its customer base over the past nine years of operation. Vogels suggested that the ease of operation, low cost and additional value-add business services provided by cloud vendors mean that organisations must embrace the cloud in order to stay competitive.

Vogels, CTO of Amazon, began the keynote by stating that “cloud has become the new normal”, and cited an increasing number of companies that are developing for, or migrating to, cloud-based platforms. Vogels suggested that the use of cloud platforms is driving a fundamental paradigm shift within the IT infrastructure industry - customers now have more power than providers, and the inflexibility and vendor lock-in provided by traditional infrastructure models is disappearing.

[Cloud vendors] need to deliver the best service, or else customers will walk away. There are no contractual obligations, no shackles. […] Your next project could easily be hosted somewhere else

During the remainder of the talk Vogels identified and discussed nine patterns that Amazon Web Services (AWS) are seeing within the use of their cloud platform infrastructure.

The first pattern, “startups build businesses on the cloud”, explored how technology startups are capable of quickly disrupting long standing industries when they build their product on the cloud. Vogels discussed several case studies, one of which was AirBnB, the online room rental website. AirBnB runs thousands of compute instances and handles hundreds of terabytes of data with only five IT staff.

The ease of operation, low cost barriers and avoidance of long term contracts with cloud infrastructure allows companies to build platforms with minimal budget in comparison to what would have been required ten years ago. The ability to rapidly scale infrastructure also enables startups to experiment at scale, and can minimise the financial impact of mistakes.

Vogels suggested that “speed is not just for startups” for the second pattern, and companies of all sizes can move faster than ever before by utilising cloud infrastructure.

“It’s impossible to stay competitive today without the cloud. Capacity planning was very tricky with fixed hardware - spikes were problematic, and rolling hardware refreshes and upgrades were required.

There is no longer the need for capacity planning in the cloud.”

Vogels proposed that IT is often not a competitive differentiator within a business, and organisations should focus on product rather than IT. The constant innovation provided by cloud vendors can also be a business enabler, rather than the traditional view of IT being seen as a blocker. For example, Major League Baseball (MLB) have deployed missile radars within baseball stadiums to capture movement of players and the ball. This movement data is streamed into Amazon Kinesis, and processed on EC2 to enable real-time ‘what-if’ analysis for the home television audience.

All enterprises need to be like startups - agile and addressing the needs of customers.

The third pattern, “customers want access to the sunday roast with all the trimmings”, explored how customers want to address all of their IT pain points when working with a cloud vendor. For example, AWS products such as Amazon Workspaces virtual desktops and Amazon Workmail email and calendaring service, provide an additional value-add over the typical cloud utilities, such as compute and storage. Vogels discussed that 25 years ago the only thing that was not built in-house was the database. Now, organisations have to be very careful about the decision of what software to write, maintain and operate themselves.

The fourth pattern, “companies will use data more expansively”, contained a case study of Just Giving, the worlds leading online fundraising platform. Richard Atkinson, CIO of Just Giving, discussed that his organisation requires a large amount of analytical processing, and stated that the ‘spiky’ variation in workload would be a huge challenge without cloud infrastructure:

The analytical workload at the 95th percentile is twenty times greater than the median demand, and the workload at the 99th percentile is three times greater again. 

The newly announced Amazon Machine Learning service was also discussed, and Vogels suggested that this tool can be used to reduce the level of in-house machine learning expertise and operational knowledge required to leverage predictive analytics.

The fifth pattern discussed was “invention is continuous”. Vogels stated that by designing with the smaller ‘building blocks’ of cloud platform functionality, applications are quicker to build, easier to adapt and more flexible in deployment. Services such as the Amazon EC2 Container Service and Amazon Lambda leverage LXC container technology, and enable the creation of microservice architectures and asynchronous event-driven systems. Providing a system is designed to take advantage of these technologies, the functionality provided can enable rapid experimentation and provide reduced time-to-market.

Additional patterns discussed included; “security in the cloud is stronger than on-premise”, where ‘shared responsibility’ tooling can be used to control access at a granular level, and security auditing can be enforced; “moving to the cloud is not a binary decision”, in which Vogels stated that migrating to the cloud with a ‘hybrid’ on-premise/cloud solution can be a gradual process; “customers and partners who have gone all-in”, which explored how cloud-native companies such as Netflix have built their entire IT estate within the cloud; and “the public sectors seek to do more with less”, in which the increased use of cloud technologies by governmental organisation was explored.

The IT market is fundamentally changing [...], and the cloud is the place to help you become more agile. Don't fight the cloud. Make use of the cloud to propel your business forward.

Vogels concluded the keynote by stating that with the pace of change within many markets increasing, resisting this change is analogous to attempting to fight gravity. In his opinion, the cloud is the place where organisations can become more agile, and can more readily adapt to these market changes.

Additional details of Werner Vogels' keynote and all other sessions at the AWS Summit London can be found on the AWS Summits webpage.

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