Suddenly AWS Summit was upon us, and me without my sherpas. This would be the fourth AWS Summit in Auckland, and the third I’d attend (I missed the inaugural one due to being on the wrong side of the earth).
It was also by far the largest yet, with 2,000 people attending. To handle such popularity, it had moved its venue to “The Cloud” (a very apropos but entirely coincidental name) and neighbouring Shed 11. Had it been a sunny day, the new venue would have been fantastic. It was not a sunny day. As rain hammered down, traversing buildings between speeches became somewhat fraught. Fortunately, the content was sufficiently distracting. And once the weather fined up in the afternoon, I was convinced the venue change was a good idea.
Both the number of attendees and the content of the expo hall and presentations made it clear that AWS and The Cloud are no longer new concepts, but are well entrenched in current IT thinking. Presentations had moved on from last year’s “how to move your first workload into the cloud” and were now focused on how to optimise your existing usage.
How much would you pay for peace of mind?
One clear indicator of the change in focus was the increase in the number of vendors now looking to sell cloud-focused security services. Sadly, security is often considered quite late in the cycle of adopting new technology, so its increasing presence points to a maturing market. There were big players present, like Intel leveraging existing technology gained from their purchase of McAfee in 2010, and specifically designed, AWS-only tools like Dome9.
This is definitely a growth segment as larger enterprises who have already completed trial migrations (and been happy with the results) try and shore up their security story ready for an all-in move to AWS.
My god, it’s full of things
Security was also a part of the other common theme of this year’s summit: the Internet of Things (IoT).
The IoT is one of three “trending technologies”—the others being machine learning and VR— that many speculate are where transformative change will be coming from over the next few years. So it’s not surprising that AWS wants in. They’ve got a brand new IoT platform and they want you to know it.
There were pretty cool live IoT demos in both the Keynote and an IoT-specific presentation later (one thing about physical devices is that they make more viscerally compelling demo experiences), and I think the AWS IoT platform is one to watch.
I was pleased with the number of security features that are provided by the platform, and that security was mentioned in the presentations. Existing IoT devices have a pretty poor reputation security-wise, and the privacy and impact implications of thousands of hacked home devices and sensors are fairly scary.
I was less happy that the AWS IoT platform operates exclusively on the cloud—no stand-alone, local control. This means that if your device provider stops supporting your device—and more importantly, stops paying their AWS bill—your device stops working. Given a similar thing that has already happened with the (non-AWS) Nest Revolv hub, this is an area that I think still needs work. Whether AWS will give up a continuous revenue stream to make their platform stronger in this area remains to be seen.
AWS is an innovating steamroller— their implacable momentum is irresistible. The rate of new features and the rate at which people become customers means that the view from the summit was impressive. But more impressive: the higher peaks are now visible, shimmering above the cloud line on the horizon. I look forward to scaling them.