Amazon Web Services Disses Traditional IT

Amazon Web Services VP Adam Selipsky calls IT a "lose/lose scenario" that amounts to no more than a "distraction" from your company's core business.

Fredric Paul, Contributor

December 23, 2008

3 Min Read

Amazon Web Services VP Adam Selipsky calls IT a "lose/lose scenario" that amounts to no more than a "distraction" from your company's core business.Yikes!

In the wake of the discussions about the value of cloud-based infrastructure at the recent bMighty bOptimized virtual event, I wanted to get the perspective of market-leader Amazon Web Services. Boy did I.

Selipsky, Vice President of Product Management and Developer Relations for Amazon Web Services, admits his bias, but believes that for most companies, services such as storage, computing, databases, and content delivery "do not differentiate them from their competitors, they're just a distraction." Making things worse, Selipsky added, delivering this stuff is hard, but you have to do it anyway. "It's a price of entry. That makes it kind of a lose/lose scenario."

In his view, the cloud "offers an opportunity to get back that time and energy." You can reduce capital expenditures and get what you need "without spending hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars up front." That helps mitigate the risk of IT investments, he said. "IT's a risk. You spend 100% on something, with a less than 100% chance it gets used" as intended.

You'd think these advantages would be most intriguing to newer and smaller companies without massive legacy IT infrastructures. But Selipsky said AWS has been surprised to find out that enterprises are just as interested as small and midsize outfits.

"We had the hypothesis, early on, that we would get more SMBs and startups and fewer enterprises" because smaller companies would have more of a risk tolerance for new technology. "We expected it ot take a few years for significant enterprise adoption, but it surprised us how rapidly enterprises are doing it."

Perhaps because it's easy to get started, depending on the applications involved. Some apps "just drop into our infrastructure," Selipsky said, while other require more work. To implement cloud storage, for example, you just have to point to the URL in the cloud where AWS stores the data. Or to start virtual server, you just "take EC2 [elastic compute cloud] and boot up a virtual server, spec the flavor of Linux you want and load up that application. It looks and feels like it's sitting in your server room." Of course, Selipsky admits, things like firewalls may force you to "think more carefully about it."

It took a bit of doing, but Selipsky did talk about some situations where the cloud does not make sense. "If people have substantial assets comitted to other providers or recently purchased, you have to ask: "Is it economic to replace that?" If they have an app that's very latency sensitive and a core piece of it has to run on their premises," that might not work so well either. Basically heterogenous environments with latency-sensitive apps are the most problematic for cloud computing.

Another barrier we discussed is the common thought that CIO's like to be able to "hug their servers." Selipsky's solution to that was education and making AWS track record transparent, calling out the company's service health dashboard. linked to from the AWS home page.

Me, I just suggested server-shaped stuffies.

For much more on Amazon Web Services, check out the current InformationWeek cover story on Chief Of The Year: Amazon CTO Werner Vogels.

About the Author(s)

Never Miss a Beat: Get a snapshot of the issues affecting the IT industry straight to your inbox.

You May Also Like

More Insights