Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO, speaks during his keynote at AWS re:Invent 2021 in Las Vegas.
Photo: Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Amazon's serverless 'eye-opener'

Protocol Enterprise

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: why Werner Vogels thinks enterprises were quick to embrace AWS Lambda serverless computing, Twilio claims it wasn't the only company hit by a new hacking campaign and the latest in enterprise tech funding.

So long, servers

Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels learned in 2014 not to count out enterprises when it comes to early adoption of emerging cloud computing technologies.

That’s when AWS unveiled Lambda, its serverless computing service that today is used by more than 1 million customers. Vogels thought younger, more tech-savvy customers would be the initial users.

  • “It turned out that enterprises are the ones that flocked to serverless first,” Vogels told Protocol in a recent interview.
  • “For them, it was immediately obvious what the benefits were and how you only pay for the five microseconds that this code runs and any idle is not being charged to you,” he said. “And you don't have to worry about reliability and security and multi-[availability zone] and all these things that then go out of the window.”
  • “That was really an eye-opener for me — this idea that we sometimes have in our head that sort of the young businesses are more technologically advanced and moving faster,” Vogels said.

AWS launched Amazon CodeWhisperer in June, a new machine learning-powered tool that generates code recommendations for developers.

  • “There's a number of application areas where I think machine learning really shines, and it is sort of augmenting professionals by helping them, taking away mundane tasks,” Vogels said.
  • When AWS launched Lambda, Vogels said at the time that the only code that would be written in the future is business logic.
  • “It turns out we're still not completely there, but tools like CodeWhisperer definitely help us to get on that path, because you can focus on what's the unique code that you need to write for the application that you have, instead of the same code that everybody else needs to write,” he said.

There’s a back-and-forth debate on whether quantum computing will find its way into many enterprises.

  • “If I look at some of the newer developments, it's clearly research-oriented,” Vogels said.
  • “The reason for us to provide Braket, which is our quantum compute service, is that customers generally start experimenting with the different types of hardware that are out there. And there's typical usage there. It's life sciences, it's oil and gas.”
  • In the next four or five years, Vogels said much of the work around quantum computing will focus not only on hardware, but providing better software support around it.
  • “But one of the things that I think is very, very clear is that we're not going to be able to solve new problems necessarily with quantum computing; we're just going to be able to solve old problems much, much faster,” he said.

Read Protocol’s full interview with Vogels here.

— Donna Goodison (email | twitter)

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Twilio hack: Part of a larger scheme?

Twilio disclosed that a cyberattack involving the theft of employee credentials allowed attackers to access data from "a limited number" of customer accounts. The company also suggested the attack may have been part of a broader hacking campaign.

Given that Twilio is a provider of software that connects with customer systems, hackers targeting the company likely saw the potential to access data from end customers through initially compromising Twilio. In that way, the attack is similar to the one that hit identity security vendor Okta and some of its customers earlier this year.

In a blog post on Sunday, Twilio said that it learned of the unauthorized access on Aug. 4. The company blamed a "sophisticated" social engineering campaign, in which attackers tricked Twilio employees into sharing their credentials, using text messages that pretended to be from the company's IT department. "The attackers then used the stolen credentials to gain access to some of our internal systems, where they were able to access certain customer data," Twilio said in the blog post.

The company did not disclose how many customers were impacted or what types of data may have been accessed. Twilio said it has been notifying impacted customers individually.

Cryptically, Twilio mentioned in the post that it has “heard from other companies that they, too, were subject to similar attacks,” though it didn’t identify other impacted companies. In an effort to stave off additional breaches, Twilio said it's working with those companies, including by asking mobile carriers to block "malicious messages" in the first place.

— Kyle Alspach (email | twitter)

Financial corner

Talon raised $100 million to build a secure internet browser for enterprises.

Aisera raised $90 million from Goldman Sachs, Thoma Bravo and others for its AI-powered customer and employee experience software.

— Aisha Counts (email | twitter)

Around the enterprise

Nvidia pre-announced weak Q2 results, revealing that gaming revenue fell 33% from a year ago. Data center revenue also came in lower than expected, due to supply chain issues.

Arm reported that revenue for its latest quarter rose 6% from the year before, a strong point in otherwise lackluster results from parent SoftBank.

The troubles continue at DataRobot; the cloud AI specialist disclosed additional layoffs, and a report in The Information said that more executives, including its CFO, have resigned.

Vista Equity Partners announced plans to acquire Avalara, whose tax compliance automation software is used by more than 30,000 customers, for $8.4 billion.

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Thanks for reading — see you tomorrow!

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