Why One of the Greatest Benefits to Amazon’s Gigantic Cloud Is Also One of Its Pitfalls
Perhaps the greatest thing about Amazon Web Services is the sheer variety of tech services it offers businesses. Ironically, that variety may also be the worst thing about AWS, the tech giant’s cloud computing unit.
Amazon sells books, online movies, groceries—and, well, just about everything—to consumers. AWS sells computing, networking, and storage running in its own data centers to business customers. Techies love having all those services at their disposal, but also complain that their use is hard to track.
Often, a company’s software development will turn on a set of AWS computers, and forget to shut it down when they are done, which means the company ends up paying for resources it isn’t using. An executive at one cloud rival used to joke that reading an AWS bill required a Ph.D., although he wasn’t sure in which subject.
That issue about cloud billing confusion bubbled up again this week when Gartner vice president Darryl Plummer said that 95% of 7,500 Gartner clients surveyed said AWS bills were the most confusing part of AWS generally.
Confronted with that finding AWS chief executive Andy Jassy said it was likely because AWS rolls out products and services very fast. AWS introduced 1,000 new features last year, and plans to beat that with 1,200 or so features in 2017, Jassy said, according to ZDNet’s account of the on-stage interview. Jassy also stressed that Amazon has tools, like Trusted Advisor, which tell customers when they should turn off computers or use another, less expensive type of computing for a given task.
All of this is of note because AWS has upended how technology is being bought by companies. Every tech supplier including Cisco (CSCO), Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), IBM, and Microsoft have had to scramble to adjust to the new tech sales model Amazon pioneered. And the corporate IT executives who tell their companies what technology to buy converge at the annual Gartner event in Orlando to hear what’s happening in the space.
When AWS started out in 2006, it offered very basic computing, storage, and networking. But it has since has added an array of more complex database, workflow, email, and desktop virtualization, among other products. In databases, for example, AWS offers six general options. And even on the basic computing side of the house, Amazon’s list of Elastic Compute Cloud options is long and complicated.
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Another striking finding from the on-the-fly Gartner survey was that nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents said they think of AWS as a “trusted enterprise partner.” Compare that to the 90% who said they consider IBM (IBM) and Microsoft (MSFT) trusted partners. That’s an impressive number, but then again, IBM and Microsoft have been in the corporate tech trenches for decades longer than Amazon (AMZN).
Note: (October 3, 2017 7:39 p.m. EDT) This story was updated to reflect that the Gartner survey happened over the last year, not at the conference this week..