AWS re:Invent 2013: highlights and analysis

1Executive Summary

AWS re:Invent 2013 was bigger and better than last year’s event. Amazon’s second annual cloud computing trade show saw over 8,000 attendees, 200 sessions, and 400 speakers: easily the largest cloud event in the industry to date.

The energetic atmosphere at the venue resembled Microsoft developer shows during the ’ 90s, which witnessed the launch of Windows and .NET. The expo was so jammed that it was tough to get down the aisles. The frenzy and excitement seen at the partner booths and the overall participation of the ecosystem indicates the growing influence of AWS on the industry. Increasingly AWS looks like the new Microsoft, with its cloud platform becoming the new Windows.

Amazon didn’t miss an opportunity to tell the world that it has gone beyond startups to become the cloud of choice for enterprises. AWS executives dropped the logos of GE, Shell, Samsung, Dow Jones, Tokyo Stock Exchange, Unilever, and Nasdaq liberally, making the statement that enterprises are on its cloud. It now employs thousands of field sales representatives across the globe and has invested in professional services focused squarely on enterprise customer adoption.

The company made it clear, however, that it has no intention of building a large enterprise sales force. It’s developing a more technical, instantly credible sales team that doesn’t need a sales engineer on every call to get a question answered. “We’re not spending time on the golf course,” said Andy Jassy, the SVP at Amazon, taking a shot at the bloated, ponderous legacy IT vendors. “We’re pretty adamant we represent something different,” he said.

The event also saw a huge increase in the focus on partners and ecosystem. The Amazon Partner Network (APN) program now classifies partners into categories like security and the public sector. The new competencies related to SAP and Oracle endorse the capabilities of qualified partners to deliver niche solutions. Two new certifications related to administration and development on AWS were launched at re:Invent.

More than anything, it was clear that AWS re:Invent has become the biggest occasion to release new products and features at Amazon Web Services. Last year it was just the Redshift announcement that made a splash at the event. This year’s event was used to announce over half a dozen new features and services.

Amazon widened the gap with its competition by moving up the stack. It has ventured into niche, new areas that will take considerable time for the competition to catch up.

Feature image courtesy Flickr user MowT

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