enterprise| enterpriseauthorTom KrazitNoneAre you keeping up with the latest cloud developments? Get Tom Krazit and Joe Williams' newsletter every Monday and Thursday.d3d5b92349
×

Get access to Protocol

I’ve already subscribed

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

The New Enterprise

Slowly but surely, AWS sets a course beyond its comfort zone

AWS CEO Andy Jassy still believes "the vast majority" of business applications will wind up in the cloud, but the cloud leader continued to hedge that bet at re:Invent 2020.

Andy Jassy presenting his keynote at this year's AWS re:Invent conference.

"We think of hybrid infrastructure as including the cloud along with various other edge nodes, on-premises data centers being one of them," said AWS CEO Andy Jassy during his re:Invent keynote.

Image: Amazon

As cloud computing matures, AWS is coming to terms with the fact that the late adopters are going to want to do things a little differently than the early adopters.

Usually it's a little hard to find a common theme for AWS CEO Andy Jassy's traditional three-hour keynote addresses that kick off each re:Invent gathering, and this year's virtual event touched on everything from advanced machine learning techniques to custom silicon to customer service call centers. But Jassy began and ended this year's re:Invent keynote by talking about "hybrid infrastructure," the mix of public cloud resources and traditional data centers that is emerging as the preferred approach for larger companies that have already invested a lot of time and money in their own software and equipment.

"We think of hybrid infrastructure as including the cloud along with various other edge nodes, on-premises data centers being one of them," Jassy said, unknowingly echoing experts we talked to for a story coming in Wednesday's edition of The New Enterprise Manual.

Just a few years ago, AWS executives did not care for the H-word. As Bloomberg reported last year, energy giant Siemens asked in 2016 for a hybrid cloud product that would allow it to take advantage of AWS' services when it made sense while maintaining links to applications and data on its own infrastructure.

"Andy was very clear that he's not interested in that," former Siemens executive Peter Weckesser told Bloomberg. But AWS changed its mind shortly after that conversation, right around the same time Microsoft made it clear that it intended to embrace the hybrid cloud concept with Azure Stack.

AWS took a step toward a hybrid world by unveiling a partnership with VMware to run applications built around its virtualization software on AWS servers in 2016. It moved even further at re:Invent 2018 with the announcement of AWS Outposts, actual servers loaded with AWS software designed to live in a customer's data center.

And on Tuesday, AWS announced that customers will be able to run its container and Kubernetes management services within their own data centers, with additional plans to open-source the Kubernetes service as a distribution that companies can manage on their own if they so choose. Containers — which are fast, lightweight and easily portable across different servers — have rapidly become the atomic unit of modern cloud computing.

It added new, smaller server options to Outposts, bringing its custom Graviton2 processors into the thinnest version of the new servers. And it expanded the AWS Local Zone initiative, announcing new mini-data center regions in Boston, Houston and Miami, with plans to add 12 new locations in places including New York, Chicago and Atlanta next year.

Outposts, Local Zones and data-center container services are all a nod to the fact that some applications simply can't run as effectively in the cloud as they will closer to their end users. As more and more applications promise real-time capabilities, the cloud data centers run by AWS and all cloud providers are sometimes too far away from critical masses of end users to avoid sluggish performance. And there are also lots of companies that simply can't move their applications to the cloud for security or regulatory reasons.

Microsoft and Google Cloud have been much faster than AWS to acknowledge this new reality, in part because they've had to move faster to catch up to AWS' lead. Microsoft has continued to add features and capabilities to Azure Arc, and Google's Anthos also gives customers a way to manage computing resources across different operating environments.

Cloud computing isn't going anywhere. It's as much a new way of building software and managing resources as it is a server-rental service, and the concepts born and proven out on the cloud have had an incalculable impact on the modern software development process, no matter where that software is running.

But sometimes it was a little hard on Tuesday morning to tell if Jassy was talking to current and potential customers or talking to AWS employees.

"If you're going to be a leader that's going to reinvent, you have got to be maniacal and relentless and tenacious about getting to the truth," he said early on in the keynote. "You have to know what competitors are doing in your space, you have to know what your customers think about your product and where you sit, relatively speaking. You have to know what's working and what's not working."

And it was also a little hard for re:Invent veterans to accept Jassy's declaration that a move toward concepts like Outposts, Local Zones and AWS software running on customer hardware was part of the plan all along.

"AWS spent a bizarre amount of time and energy in the keynote convincing themselves they invented hybrid, which just isn't true," said Charles Fitzgerald, an angel investor and former executive at Microsoft and VMware. "They have a strange psychological need to believe they are the 'best' and invented everything, which makes for strange contortions when they run into all the cases where that isn't true."

The New Enterprise

Software ate the world. Now it’s eating software companies.

Enterprise software juggernauts are trying to emulate (or just acquire) the smaller, specialized companies. It's not as easy as it looks.

Nom nom nom.

Image: Bloomberg/Getty Images/Protocol

Do you want excellence, or convenience?

Cloud computing allowed a generation of enterprise software companies to flourish, providing them the freedom to tinker with laser-focused ideas that could streamline stodgy business workflows within a browser or an app. That has led to a proliferation of different enterprise software vendors offering high-performance but niche products: According to data from Okta, which makes identity management software, its average corporate customer is using 88 separate apps across their business.

Keep Reading Show less
Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

The New Enterprise

Nine companies that could define the future of enterprise software

From streamlining software development to changing the way companies communicate, here are the software trends headed to your offices in the coming years.

A bunch of enterprise software companies want companies to do things a little differently.

Image: Protocol

Software may have eaten the world, but the world has changed — and a new wave of enterprise software has an appetite.

Heading into 2021, the enterprise software industry has a wealth of opportunity before it, not least as a result of COVID-19. As companies raced to make better use of cloud computing, their needs shifted: They now need to build, deploy and monitor software in wholly new ways. At the same time, companies are also using digital systems more than ever — whether that's for customer engagement, internal communication, staff training or something else entirely. And on top of all that is the natural march of technological progress as technologies like AI and VR mature and finally become usable in the workplace (or home office).

Keep Reading Show less
Hirsh Chitkara
Hirsh Chitkara (@ChitkaraHirsh) is a researcher at Protocol, based out of New York City. Before joining Protocol, he worked for Business Insider Intelligence, where he wrote about Big Tech, telecoms, workplace privacy, smart cities, and geopolitics. He also worked on the Strategy & Analytics team at the Cleveland Indians.
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 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.

Keep Reading Show less
Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

The New Enterprise

Inside S&P Global Ratings’ aggressive computing overhaul

Mark Wang, the company's head of cloud engineering, had a three-year plan to reboot its approach to computing. It was ambitious to say the least.

"We've built out all the cloud expertise in-house, that's one thing I'm very proud of," says Mark Wang, the company's head of cloud engineering.

Image: Creative-Touch/Protocol

"We're a 160-year-old institution," says Mark Wang, head of cloud engineering at S&P Global Ratings. "Now, we're moving at the pace of a fintech."

Unlike many fellow financial services companies, which have been slow to adopt cloud computing, Wang's team at the global ratings agency has been nothing less than extremely aggressive in its rollout of new technology. Last year, it moved more than 160 of its internal applications to the cloud, bucking the trend of compromising on the hybrid cloud. This year, it's embarking on an ambitious plan to re-architect those applications around serverless computing principles and Kubernetes, using the Knative open-source project.

Keep Reading Show less
Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

The New Enterprise

Data centers aren’t dead. But they’ll never look the same again.

Major cloud providers have accepted a future where hybrid cloud strategies take center stage, which means on-premises infrastructure will continue to evolve. Here's how.

All-in cloud strategies are likely to be the exception, rather than the rule, when it comes to the next wave of modernization.

Photo: Erik Isakson/Getty Images

A funny thing happened along the way to the cloud-only future we were promised a decade ago: Turns out, for many applications, the old-fashioned way of doing business on the internet works just fine.

Cloud vendors and customers have reevaluated their infrastructure strategies around the hybrid cloud in recent years, and that means self-managed data centers are going to be with us for a long time to come. Even AWS, the pioneer of the cloud market, now offers customers a rack of physical servers designed around AWS services that they can use in their data centers, just a few years after scoffing at the notion that anyone would want to manage their own equipment.

Keep Reading Show less
Tom Krazit

Tom Krazit ( @tomkrazit) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering cloud computing and enterprise technology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has written and edited stories about the technology industry for almost two decades for publications such as IDG, CNET, paidContent, and GeekWire. He served as executive editor of Gigaom and Structure, and most recently produced a leading cloud computing newsletter called Mostly Cloudy.

Latest Stories