Amazon Web Services was, at one point, the leader in cloud hosting. Now, with the release of Microsoft Azure, it appears Amazon and AWS Senor Vice President Andy Jassy is getting a little uncomfortable, and has responded by speaking to a crowd of 4,000 people why Azure just doesn't stack up to AWS at the AWS Summit held in San Francisco recently.
But are they really the best cheap web hosting IaaS option out there, or are they just trying to keep their customers from switching?
AWS Has Been Around Longer
AWS was launched in 2006, but Jassy says that the vision for the cloud service was imagined a decade ago. They've come a long way, with their S3 service growing by leaps and bounds: they now store 2 trillion objects for developers who can't handle the high cost of building and managing their own infrastructure.
Microsoft entered the picture earlier this month offering Azure, their IaaS cloud service. They first tried a PaaS service, but as developers kept turning to AWS, they seem to have changed their plans.
Growing Fast And Offering More
Jassy spoke to the attendees of the summit about all AWS has to offer, from services to the technologies involved, such as the Redshift data warehouse and the Elastic MapReduce Hadoop implementation. He said, “What (customers) don't want to settle for is an AWS 2009 type of platform…As a lot of other companies are just launching their solutions, we have much better technology than anybody else. We are iterating and innovating at a very fast clip.”
Jassy referred to the typical process of growing its business as a “virtuous cycle:” gaining AWS customers, upping usage of the service, creating economics of scale, and then getting even more new customers. Amazon offers its customers a handy feature: the Trusted Advisor feature. Through this service, customers are told they should scale down compute instances if it senses nothing is happening, which allows AWS to lower their prices more and more. In fact, the company has lowered their prices a total of 31 times since 2006 according to Jassy. This is the main reason he says Amazon can offer AWS for such a low price yet offer high quality services.
But is that necessarily true? It has been found that other cloud providers perform better than Amazon's EC2 service when running an application and fetching the result. Is this just Jassy trying to convince the masses AWS is best to keep growing the cloud service?
Regardless, AWS has gathered up a decent customer base: the startup Mailbox, the giant corporation Shell, and numerous global customers as they operate in nine regions.
Public vs. Private
Jassy spoke to what he called “old-guard tech companies” who are pushing the private cloud and its security, despite the fact private clouds don't provide the benefits of the Amazon infrastructure. He did state his understanding of the fact that some companies require certain data to remain in-house, but points out those companies would be well served relying on Amazon's Direct Connect to virtually connect the AWS and their local data center.
Amazon Better Than Azure: The Verdict
It seems those attending the conference were mostly in agreement: Amazon is reliable when it comes to storage and elastic compute services. Although there are others emerging on the market, such as Rackspace, Microsoft, and Google, they have already signed on with Amazon and their S3 and EC2. One businessman said he uses AWS to run applications for his startup, with a backup plan of deploying in another AWS region. If that doesn't work for him, he will then look into other cloud hosting providers.
Although these customers seem faithful, what can one expect at an Amazon-hosted summit? Only time will tell, with the emergence of other reliable cloud services and cheap web hosting from Rackspace, Microsoft, and Google, if in a year or two from now people are still singing the praises of AWS.