AWS re:Invent took place last week and the announcements have brought a breath of fresh air to the cloud computing platform. In the past, I’ve written about how, despite of remaining the undisputed leader in the cloud platform space, AWS has been recently lagging in innovation in emerging technology areas such as artificial intelligence(AI), machine learning(ML), internet of things(IOT), containers, application integration and a few others. The slow pace of innovation in AWS allowed rivals such as Azure, Google Cloud or Bluemix to gain relevent market share in those sectors via the release of innovative offerings in their cloud stacks. re:Invent clearly showed that AWS is determined to now allow Microsoft, Google or IBM to easily lead in those emerging technology sectors and that is looking to, at least, level the plain field in terms of technological capabilities.
The Technical Equilibrium of the Cloud Platform Space
In the platform as a service(PaaS) market, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM are immersed on a frantic race to match each other feature y feature. From that perspective, none of the PaaS incumbents seems comfortable letting the competition lead on a specific area without providing a competing offering. As a result, no new service or innovation from a PaaS provider goes very long without being matched with similar capabilities from the other incumbents.
When Amazon launched its Lambda service, it was only a few months before IBM released OpenWhisk followed by Microsoft and Google releasing Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions respectively. Similarly, IBM’s Watson Developer Cloud was quickly matched by Microsoft’s Cognitive Services followed by Google’s release of its cognitive, speech, voice and image APIs. The result of this competition is that, at least from the technical perspective, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and Bluemix look incredibly similar. Following this logic, it was just a matter of time before Amazon started to bridge the gap in emerging areas such as AI or ML that were dominated by some of its competitors. re:Invent’s announcements definitely confirmed that theory but also brought a lot of innovation to new areas of AWS.
re:Invent: AWS Pushes a New Wave of Cloud Innovation
As mentioned before, many of the announcements at re:Invent were focused on bridging the gap with competitors in emerging technology areas while others opened new fronts of innovation for AWS. Let’s review a few of the most relevant announcements that fit that criteria.
AWS Green grass is a new service that extends AWS Lambda with functions that can be executed locally in IOT devices. Using Green grass, developers can write Lambda Python functions that can be executed across devices in an IOT topology without requiring any cloud roundtrips.
AWS Lightsail offers a low cost option for developers to start using AWS virtual private servers. In some context, Lightsail can be considered an alternative to cloud platforms such as DigitalOcean and it could become a strong differentiator of rAWS moving forward.
AWS Glue finally brings ETL capabilities to the AWS cloud. This service compares with products such as Azure Data Factory, AWS Data Pipeline or Google Dataflow.
Amazon unveiled a groupf of AI services such as Lex [natural language processing], Rekognition [image analysis] and Polly [text to speech] that allow developer to incorporate cognitive capabilities into their applications. These services can be considered an alternative to Watson Developer Cloud, Microsoft Cognitive Services and Google Cloud NLP, voice and speech APIs.
AWS Blox is a series of open source container management tools for the EC2 Container Service. Developers can use Blox to integrate EC2 with other container schedulers such as Apache Mesos.
AWS Pinpoint is a new mobile analytics service thaintegrateses with AWS Mobile Hub. This service expands the already existing mobile analytics capabilities in the AWS platform and competes with technologies such as Google Mobile Analytics or MixPanel.