Amazon Kinesis should be a real-time wake-up call for Google

Amazon(s amzn) Web Services announced a new streaming data service called Kinesis on Thursday but one could argue its biggest impact is more business than technology. Google, Microsoft and any cloud provider that thinks it wants to compete with AWS needs to step up its game if it wants to stand a real chance at winning new developers.

New instance types, databases and security protocols are great, but they’re not necessarily huge points of differentiation between clouds. At least not for long. Hypothetically enabling entirely new types of applications because of services that let users capture, store and  transport streaming data to various data stores or processing engines (e.g., DynamoDB, Redshift, Elastic MapReduce and even Storm) is a pretty big point of differentiation.

Capture with Kinesis, send to EMR, Storm or wherever.
Capture with Kinesis, send to EMR, Storm or wherever.

Forget streaming data — Microsoft(s msft) just rolled out its batch Hadoop service; Google(s goog) doesn’t technically have one for Compute Engine.

While announcing Kinesis onstage at AWS re:invent, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels quoted Netflix’s Adrian Cockroft (and I’ll paraphrase him) in noting that a company like Netflix is a log-generation application that happens to stream videos. The same could be said for just about any application dealing in mobile, video, media, social, sensors or whatever. If the companies running those applications want to do something with that data in real time, and they want to do it via a managed cloud service, Kinesis (to the best of my knowledge) is the only option around.

I wrote last week that Google has the technologies internally to build an incredibly compelling cloud platform should it choose to deliver them as services. Gartner analyst Lydia Leong fleshed out that idea in a blog post on Thursday. She wrote

“I expect Google is going to launch truly innovative capabilities that will turn into customer demands. It’s not that AWS is going to simply mount a competitive response — it will become a situation where customers ask for these capabilities, pushing AWS to respond.”

The live workload migration service that inspired her post does sound impressive and is something that AWS doesn’t offer. Microsoft, too, has promise in terms of having a technology portfolio capable of disruption if exposed as services.

Right now, though, it’s still AWS doing most of the innovating (I forget the exact number of major features Vogels said AWS has released so far this year, but it was north of 200), while we just talk about how disruptive the others could be. If they really do intend to attract new developers and keep them away from AWS, it seems like other cloud providers might want to pick up the pace.