This article is cross-posted on TechTarget as part of my contribution during the AWS re:Invent show in Vegas this month. It is important to note, however, that this version is slightly different. In this article I will cover the evolution of the AWS ecosystem over the last 3 years, which, in my opinion, has been one of the most important indicators of the cloud industry’s growth.
Cloud vendors need an ecosystem. It is a vital part of their product’s and service’s maturity. In order to enable products to support more use cases, customers and revenues, you need a community of vendors that can link up to your API and extend your platform. By first developing your API and then creating a UI, you set the stage for companies that thrive off of your API and product. SalesForce, for example, holds data with their flexible platform that has quite possibly developed into the largest ecosystem in the cloud over the past few years. When external companies develop around your API, cloud vendor get 2 things: very rich services, above and beyond their core services, and a scalable business with revenues that are generated directly by ecosystem, itself.
For any cloud vendor, this is a natural step and a significant part of their strategy. IT is one of Amazon cloud’s major strengths. In his reInvent keynote, Andy Jassy talked about thousands of partners, making AWS the largest cloud ecosystem in the IaaS industry. This was made clear when walking up and down the aisles of the exhibition hall at re:Invent this year, noticing that the number of attendees and partners tripled with more than 300 exhibitors.
You can also see companies that started off very small at the first and second re:Invents, and have become large, successful companies this time around. (i.e. Datadog monitoring solutions and 2ndWatch). It is still important to note that the ecosystem is composed of mostly startups. There are lots of investments in this ecosystem and in the cloud domain, in particular when it comes to services that extend the Amazon cloud. Investments are still the first factor in AWS’ growing ecosystem.
Enterprise Adoption Accelerates Security and Migration
Amazon is growing with enterprises and its ecosystem is evolving accordingly. The AWS re:Invent theme was, “cloud is the new normal”, which refers specifically to enterprise adoption. It’s come to the point where investors know that this adoption is driven by two main factors: security and migration. Large enterprises want to move to the cloud without compromising security and compliance. Everyone knows that Amazon is compliant, but there is a shared responsibility model that means the customers have their side in making it happen. This is where the ecosystem comes into play.
Contrary to the first 2 years of re:Invent, this year, you could see a sprawl of security companies. When you think about the cloud, people tend to directly link it to its main challenge, which is making it secure. This is the point of these companies that focus on keeping AWS consumers secure from external and internal threats. With Amazon’s expansion in the enterprise IT market, that makes sense. Ranging from vendors that create firewall solutions in the cloud, such as security group management, like Dome9, which is a veteran in this field, all the way to evident.io, which analyzes the AWS security state, or GreenSQL that tracks database activities to find anomalies in the way data is consumed.
Another important movement that we see is migration. AWS is proud to show the enormous and impressive amount of new products and features they release every year. That doesn’t necessarily make things easier for new cloud comers. The knowledge gap is huge. Traditional companies still see on-premises migration as a great challenge due to a lack of tools and knowledge. These companies struggle with hiring people with the right skills. Accenture, which is one of the biggest IT integrators in the world, currently invests heavily in training hundreds of engineers to work in the cloud. When it comes to cloud adoption and migration, we can relate to two types of AWS ecosystem vendors: consultants/integrators and solution providers. The first group of vendors takes enterprises hand-in-hand to the cloud. The second, which is more interesting, is composed of ISVs, mostly startups, that develop layers and tools that translate on-premises environments (SaaS) to Amazon. These solutions aim to connect on-premises environments with the cloud, making migration one click away. In this domain, we find new vendors such as Bracket, CloudVelox and RavelloSystems.
The natural evolution of migration is the hybrid cloud. Once the initial migration is done the next step for these AWS ecosystem vendors will be to maintain the resulting hybrid environment, especially for large enterprises that still prefer to keep part of their data on-premises (due to security or other specific issues).
As mentioned above, the ecosystem is a significant force for cloud vendors. AWS’ ecosystem is one of the most interesting and evolving communities that is composed of cloud management vendors all the way to big data analytic services. By leveraging this great ecosystem, enterprises will be able to manage this new complex modern IT environment. The new virtual datacenter is not feasible without this kind of ecosystem. AWS’ ecosystem’s growth will continue over the next few years, since it has become the norm for startups and enterprises, alike.