In the Age of Cloud, Big Data, Mobile and Social, Could Amazon Emerge a Leader?

5 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar

When EMC CEO Joe Tucci addressed a crowd of 15,000 attendees at EMC World last year, he made a somewhat startling prediction: a number of today’s computing giants won’t survive the current period of disruption.

Using the transition from the mainframe to the client server era as the basis for his argument, he noted that, “As we moved from platform one (mainframe) to platform two (client-server) there [were] 21 companies with over a billion dollar market cap and the only one that made it successfully to platform two was IBM.”

He went on, “Now as we’re now having the same transition from platform two to platform three ... and the companies that are prominent on platform two [will] become much less so [we’ll see] new companies come to great prominence.”

I don’t know who will drop out (how about you, Mr. Ellison? Or you, Meg Whitman?), but I’d bet that Amazon, and specifically Amazon Web Services (AWS), will be one of the new companies that takes over.

And I say this not only because Amazon rules the Cloud, (Gartner analyst Lydia Leong says that Amazon’s consumed compute capacity is five times greater than that of the remaining 14 cloud providers in the Gartner Magic Quadrant combined) but also because of its next generation, agile, home-grown approach to development, its big data and analytics capabilities, its rich ecosystem and its desire to please and work with developers so that they can do their best work.

Add to that Amazon CTO Werner Vogels -- he’s easy to trust, like and respect (the fact that he’s smart is a given). He’s the kind of guy you want at your side whether you’re writing an application, having a problem downloading a book onto a mobile device, going to a concert or are just plain kidding around. Case in point:

How many CTOs pair a Nirvana t-shirt with a suit when they address their user conference?

To put these claims in perspective, consider what AWS Senior Vice President Andy Jassy said in a press conference last week -- that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos believes AWS could become Amazon’s largest business. Think about that: larger than the world’s second largest online retailer.

Amazon.com is AWS’s Test Kitchen - Perfect for Big Data and Data Scientists

As the world’s second largest retailer, Amazon.com has been actively dealing with big data before the term became popular. They have been gracefully handling the three V’s (high Volume, Velocity, Variability) for a long time and their ability to analyze data sets is key to their business. They may be one of the pioneers of developing and using algorithms such as “if you buy a coffee maker, you will also buy coffee,” "people who bought Call of Duty also bought Borderlands” and so on. Amazon had to build a Big Data infrastructure and put it to use long ago, which is something that less than 8 percent of the companies surveyed byGartner are even doing today.

Learning Opportunities

So it goes to follow that AWS can take what’s been learned, andwhat works at Amazon.com and offer it to its customers on the Cloud. And though we’re not going to go into Elasticity or pricing here, consider the time savings and reduced time to market that AWS offers to customers -- no infrastructure acquisition and implementation costs, no scaling costs and little chance of failure with using Amazon IaaS.

We’re not saying that there isn't a downside; in fact, we’re officially inviting you to tell us what it is (in no more than two paragraphs) and e-mail it, maybe we’ll write a counter-argument to this and quote you.

Amazon Now Offers Big Data Services End to End

But Amazon’s big data know-how doesn’t stop there. According to AWS, Amazon’s Elastic Map Reduce (EMR) already supports the recently announced Apache Hadoop 2.2 and HBase 0.94.7, something not every Hadoop vendor can claim. AWS also teaches customers how to spin up a Hadoop cluster in a matter of minutes, which, provided it works in practice, will continue to be attractive to enterprises and individuals who are nervous about entering big data waters.

And then there’s AWS Kinesis, (Vogels says the word comes from Greek -- a movement as reaction to a stimulus), a brand new fully managed service for real-time processing of streaming data at massive scale, a capability that few, if any, competitors provide. The announcement left competitors speechless. Its closest competitor, as far as anyone seems to know, is Google BigQuery.

There are other AWS services that could fall into the big data and analytics stack, we’re inviting you to read about them and watch incredibly friendly videos on Amazon’s site. They include Amazon Redshift,a fully managed, petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud; Amazon's DynamoDB NoSQL database which (as of Thursday) will speed up all types of searches that mobile apps make in the cloud and more.

While this is already a lot to take in, there are even more significant reasons why we think Amazon will emerge as a leader in computing’s third era. We will share them later this week.

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