We discuss how sometimes you can find more impactful insights from smaller boutique research firms than the larger giants. Aragon Research is a full spectrum industry analyst research firm who provides advisory services to those who are building, buying, or investing in emerging technologies.
We take a look at the latest announcements Amazon CTO Werner Vogels made at the latest AWS Summit. We look at new SaaS contracts in the AWS Marketplace allowing smaller SaaS companies to outsource their billing to AWS.
Amazon is a company that seems to keep doing things right. They are hard to avoid as leaders in cloud computing right now. Even when they make mistakes they seem to be able to pivot them quickly into useful tools. They own somewhere around 80% of the public cloud market at the moment and it is no surprise why because they have the best technology.
We also look at Amazon CodeStar, their improved database services, and upgraded machine learning tools such as Amazon Rekognition.
Amazon Rekognition uses machine learning for image detection to automatically monitor content. This allows us to identify objectionable images automatically. This has use-cases anywhere from identifying fake news to preventing issues with advertisements on objectionable content. Amazon is using machine learning to look at images and rank them on a 9-point scale of how objectionable the image is.
Rekognition is a deep learning service, meaning it is built on several layers of neural networks, the first layer being feature recognition, the next a classification of objectionable content, and so on. As of now, Amazon has built in a standard scale, but it would be interesting if they let users choose their own parameters for what is objectionable. Giving context for content is a difficult step in the process, which would be an interesting next move for Amazon also. There needs to be an objectionable rating for users so that the system can learn individual preferences as well.
We also discuss data privacy, and how zombie cloud data can haunt you when you think it has been deleted but it still exists somewhere else. There are legal issues around this zombie data that are being exposed now even with subjects like student standardized testing. Of course, sometimes this can be a great feature when you accidentally delete something and there is a way to find it again.
We discuss how a lot of big players in tech from the past are now gone, and this trend makes us look closely at the big tech companies today whose growth is slowing, such as Oracle and IBM. They seem to have lost their disruptive edge and struggle with the new business models they compete against, but experience tells us they are definitely survivors. They’re making money around a legacy business that we still live with today, but that is diminishing with the widespread adoption of the cloud. If they do move into the cloud, which they have taken steps towards, it doesn’t necessarily make sense because they would be taking sales from their own legacy technology.
IBM is now reinventing how to work within this new type of model that Microsoft and Amazon have built. IBM is trying to play catch up on the growth of the cloud and figuring out how to make money on it. With Watson and IoT, they are doing fascinating stuff in this space which could launch them into a hybrid cloud model with various customers, but there is no question they are struggling.
We look at how AWS is looking to simplify building and deploying apps on the cloud platform with a new service, AWS CodeStar. This service makes it simpler to set up projects by using templates for web applications, web services, and others. Developers can provision projects and resources from coding to testing to deployment. It seems to be yet another service AWS is providing that Microsoft and Google don’t have, which further solidifies its leadership in cloud computing. Amazon is great at targeting clients at all levels, from large enterprises to capturing the minds and hearts of the tech geeks. With AWS CodeStar, they aim to make it easier for developers to build applications on the cloud. 2017 is the year of the cloud land grab. Each vendor is trying to get as many people onto their platforms as possible, and AWS is trying to convert anyone and everyone.
AWS CodeStar was launched in response to enterprises facing the challenges of agile development software processes. The first challenge for new software is often having a lengthy setup process before they can start coding. The ability to pull this stuff out to the cloud and get up and running quickly is a huge strategic advantage, especially considering enterprises cloud take years to set up processes like these.
When an enterprise decides to switch to agile development or DevOps, there is a huge initial infrastructure setup involved to get the ID setup, the code repository set up with right security, and getting the build and deploy systems created. By Amazon offering this in a box, giving end-to-end solutions including integration with JIRA for bugs, that will be huge for saving time and headaches for clients. It would not be a surprise to see the other cloud vendors start to imitate CodeStar now that AWS has raised the bar.
Amazon has in a way become the new IBM. They are now the 800 pound gorilla that others strive to catch up to. When you look at their total capacity, they have close to fourteen times the data capacity of the next five vendors underneath them. It will be hard to catch up with them. Other vendors often claim to have faster growth than AWS, but that is only because they are playing on smaller fields and AWS is so big there is less room to grow.
Microsoft is now offering Cloud Migration Assessment services, which walk clients through an evaluation of resources they currently use to determine what to move to the cloud and what it will cost to do that. AWS offers a similar tool, and it’s clear that both tools will be used to promote their internal products. It may be a useful tool to determine the cost of migrating to the cloud, but it’s important to remember that everybody’s needs for the cloud are different, so enterprises need to focus on what their particular needs and requirements are.
No technology negates the need for good design and planning, and cloud is no exception. The pricing of moving to the cloud is dependent on how your particular IT is structured. Cross-vendor pricing must be considered also. Your particular configuration will depend on your requirements and what vendors you are piecing together. These tools often underestimate the cost of what the migration will be, they would rarely overestimate the cost.
We discuss the transition from the popularity of Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) starting in the early 2000’s to today’s microservices. SOAs were API-based which made it easy to pivot into cloud computing. With SOAs we used to think reuse was a goal, but with microservices it has become much easier to replace everything. With microservices you are often trying to decompose as much as possible to increase speed.
We look at Pivotal and how they help large companies get good at software. They do that with agile methods. Pivotal Labs used to help large companies like eBay, Twitter and Google get ramped up on agile development. There is a lot of money going into disruptive technology today and everybody is at risk of losing their place to someone who does software better. It changes the game for these large enterprises who realize that if they can get their software skills competitive, their advantage of history and supply chain comes back to the forefront. The service experience now starts with software. Pivotal is a trusted advisor to come in and help big companies make these changes.
We also explore updates in Cloud Foundry and Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Last week an update added full Windows support under the cover of Cloud Foundry. Pivotal has been working on not only bringing in the Windows ecosystem, but also supporting more types of workloads, container networking for container communication, and persistent storage. Pivotal is checking the boxes from traditional PaaS to a cloud-native platform which runs anywhere and brings more types of workloads in. There are more types of applications because most of these companies need to improve their software capabilities, but do not necessarily need to get good at infrastructure internally. Offering more types of apps and services in more places to help these enterprises improve their software practice is important. These are all ways to make developers more productive while also simplifying the ops burden, which is not easy. Learn more about Cloud Foundry at the Cloud Foundry Summit in June.
Microsoft recently acquired a small startup, Deis. Sometimes acquisitions of smaller companies can be more of a mystery than large ones. Deis powers Kubernetes on Azure, so it looks like this acquisition is most likely a mix of an acqui-hire and a purchase of technology relevant to Microsoft as they improve their Kubernetes capabilities. It seems they are doing everything it takes to get as many interesting workloads on Azure as possible. Large companies like Microsoft, AWS, Google, and IBM can’t move fast enough, so getting the technology they need to differentiate themselves will start to happen more and more. It looks like we should expect to see many more acquisitions to come and further consolidation in the industry.
Last, we look at cloud security and whether we need to encrypt everything going forward. Many major websites already encrypt by default, encryption and multi-factor authentication need to be used everywhere. If we do encrypt everything, it adds latency in how information is moved from place to place and it annoys people to have to do extra steps. But we seem to be moving in this direction quickly. On the cloud, there is no performance latency as we move in this direction anymore. By default, we should encrypt everything from now on. Assume every piece of information from now on is going to be hackable.
It is not possible to simply lift-and-shift and assume it will be okay anymore because the legacy apps were designed to sit behind a firewall and all the inter-app communication was secure only behind the wall. Instead we’re moving to a model where every component needs to protect itself, encrypt its own data, secure access into it, and authorize the user on the way in. If you’re not doing those things it will be hard to pick up a legacy app and run it in the cloud somewhere because the security wasn’t built for that. Luckily, cloud services make this process easy and most public clouds have encrypted databases, but companies are not always ready to handle that. As platform builders, if we can simplify this, we will get farther with developers and have less data leaks and bad practices.