The New Enterprise

AWS quietly enters the multicloud era

The cloud leader confirmed that two new services introduced Tuesday at re:Invent can be used to manage applications on Microsoft and Google's cloud services.

AWS quietly enters the multicloud era

AWS CEO Andy Jassy gave a keynote at AWS' re:Invent.

Photo: AWS re:Invent

It was easy to miss a line on two slides presented during AWS CEO Andy Jassy's Tuesday morning keynote at re:Invent 2020. But it opened a new chapter in the history of the cloud computing pioneer.

ECS Anywhere and EKS Anywhere — two new versions of AWS' managed containers and managed Kubernetes services, both designed for customer data centers — can be used to manage applications running on Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Each service "works on any infrastructure," according to the slide, and AWS confirmed to Protocol that they would allow customers to use its software to manage workloads running on other cloud providers.

This is a major step for AWS, which has only grudgingly acknowledged the existence of other cloud providers over the last several years. Far and away the market-share leader for infrastructure cloud services, AWS has only recently come to terms with the fact that its customers want options for managing applications on both AWS and their own infrastructure, let alone a competitor's infrastructure.

Indeed, Jassy did not mention the word "multicloud" during his keynote address, and until last year the company didn't even allow sponsors presenting on the re:Invent show floor to use the word "multicloud" in their presentation materials. But there's growing interest in multicloud strategies among cloud newcomers despite the complexity involved due to lock-in fears and the fact that different departments within a company sometimes have different requirements.

The Information reported in October that AWS was planning to announce a multicloud service during re:Invent. "AWS realizes that they are not the be-all and end-all in the cloud. They are pushing hard to make sure they can manage services across cloud providers," an anonymous source said.

Microsoft and Google have been very eager to advance multicloud strategies and tools, mostly out of recognition that they were late to the cloud infrastructure services market and a huge percentage of their current and future customers already have a relationship with AWS. Microsoft's Azure Stack and, later, Azure Arc, set the second-place cloud company on this path, while Google Cloud's Anthos product, first announced in 2019, also offers customers a way to manage applications running on multiple clouds and their own data centers.

It does not appear that ECS Anywhere and EKS Anywhere offer the same degree of support for multicloud deployments as Azure Arc or Google Anthos, which were designed to be user-friendly multicloud tools. And according to the ECS Anywhere launch blog post, "the supportability of ECS Anywhere scenarios at the time of general availability may be artificially limited due to other constraints."

But customers will be able to use the two services "wherever a customer needs them," according to an AWS representative. General availability and more details are expected next year.

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