Another year, another AWS re:Invent in the books. Over 24,000 cloud pros, vendors, press, and analysts flooded the Venetian, Mirage, and Wynn hotels in Las Vegas in what appeared to be Amazon’s largest cloud conference to date. Having attended last year, I certainly noticed a dramatic increase in foot traffic. There was no shortage of announcements at the event as there are always high expectations and demands to hear about Amazon’s latest technology each year. The cloud giant did not disappoint. Below are a few key takeaways from my experience at the event:
Artificial Intelligence and Analytics Take Center Stage
Amazon has taken a very focused approach on artificial intelligence to help customers of its data center services to develop smarter applications. During Wednesday’s keynote, CEO Andy Jassy announced three new AI products for image recognition, text-to-speech and the natural language understanding that powers Amazon Alexa (the personal assistant AI software). The ultimate goal for Amazon is to make the technology broadly available to AWS developers so they can build intelligent applications using their data.
The Amazon Athena announcement also included a new analytics product for running queries on data stored in S3 using Structured Query Language (SQL). With this tool, IT pros do not need to worry about setting up the infrastructure for analytics, they can now get their feet wet with the technology quickly and at a low cost. Customers can utilize custom metadata to perform complex queries, which significantly lowers the bar for everyday IT pros to use big data analytics to gain insights. Jassy also noted that Athena does not overlap with the querying tools available through Amazon’s Elastic MapReduce (EMR) service or its Redshift data warehousing service.
AI and analytics are definitely areas that are taking off, and these announcements show Amazon continues to lead the way in cloud innovation, setting a high standard for Google and Microsoft to meet. In 2017, I expect to see an increased emphasis and adoption of AI, which will help bring innovations faster to market in a wide range of industries.
Database Performance Cannot Be Underestimated
Amazon is continuing to advance database technologies by extending Amazon Aurora to support PostgreSQL. Amazon’s continued focus on Aurora is a clear play at their competitor Oracle, greatly simplifying AWS cloud migration for applications that previously ran on an Oracle database.
By adding PostgreSQL support, AWS also makes it easier for companies already working with PostgreSQL to run their apps on the AWS cloud instead of on legacy infrastructure. Customers have another reason to move their enterprise-class applications to the cloud and can take advantage of the scalability, durability, and security capabilities of Amazon Aurora.
In 2017, the database landscape will include a greater mix of traditional and cloud infrastructure — and database management will become even more complex. Companies who haven’t figured out that database performance will be key to their success will be surpassed by companies that have, so smart move for Amazon.
Buzz Around Serverless Computing for Developers
Serverless computing frees up time for developers, as they no longer need to worry about servers, including virtual ones in the cloud. This is a trend I saw take the forefront at AWS re:Invent, particularly for developers. There were countless sessions on this topic at the event and a big announcement from Amazon was that their serverless computing framework, AWS Lambda, will be made available outside of its cloud environment. There will, no doubt, always be a next big thing or competitor on the market looking to be a disruptor in the industry; however, I expect Amazon to focus on Lamdba and serverless technology to stay on top.
It’s clear to me that AWS isn’t slowing down in their charge to bring cloud offerings to the enterprise and companies are taking note judging by the number of end users I talked to in Vegas. Whether it’s the shiny object of AI or the back-office improvements for Aurora, AWS is making a big bet that CIOs will now be seriously moving their infrastructure to Amazon’s cloud platform and services. What were your takeaways from the event?