AWS: A Semi Critical Look

December 3, 2019

DarkCyber found “Unbundling AWS” interesting. We decided to label the write up as semi critical. We will reveal the reasons at the foot of this post.

The write up explains one reason why AWS has become one of the leaders in cloud service. (Yes, we are hedging our bets because it is not clear how the cloud vendors in China are keeping score for their “growth.”)

The article includes this chart. Its story is clear. AWS is growing. The article highlights some important attributes of Amazon. First, there’s the old saw about AWS being a juggernaut, a word I like better than flywheel. Second, there’s this observation:

Getting a new software product to market has never been as cheap or fast as it is today, despite the fact that the surface area of in-depth knowledge required to build high-performing software has never been higher.


DarkCyber thinks this is a very, very important facet of Amazon’s approach. Why? You will have to wait until my chapter in a forthcoming book becomes available or attend my lecture in Washington, DC, on December 11, 2019, at the DG Vision conference.

Third, the article includes this important observation, often overlooked by retail crazed MBAs:

The availability of open source tooling and the ease of access to infrastructure on AWS and other IaaS providers, and infrastructure turning into software, which means it’s programmable and, increasingly, thinly-sliced.

Big implications ahead, gentle reader.

But what DarkCyber found particularly rewarding was the overt statement that entrepreneurs will just use AWS. We noted this bulleted list:

  • “Frameworks and deployment tools that make application software agnostic to the underlying infrastructure provider. Things like the Serverless framework, containers + orchestration, or IAC tools like Saltstack, Terraform, Ansible, etc
  • The overlapping areas of logging, APM, and monitoring. This is a hot area right now, with IPO’s like Dynatrace or Datadog, or acquisitions like SignalFX. Related: Cloudwatch is terrible!
  • Data science workflows – this is my subjective, anecdotal experience, but most data scientists I know have a preference for Google Cloud for a lot of their work, and custom hardware like TPUs likely play a role here
  • Authentication and identity – Auth0, LoginRadius, Okta, etc … where it may make sense to have a third-party handle
  • Paradigms that lead to different stack choices – I’m a big proponent of the JAMstack, and it’s a prime example of a paradigm where AWS may not be a natural choice for parts of this architecture. I believe that we will continue to see this and other new architectural paradigms evolve.”

We think the write up gets one thing off center; specifically:

we should all be so lucky to be at a scale and level of popularity where this becomes a problem. It’s hard for me to see a lot of cases where AWS will be competing with companies before they reach scale.

We think AWS will compete with its entrepreneurs and big buck customers. Amazon Essentials makes that clear.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2019


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