Highlights from the AWS Summit in NYC April 19 2012

It’s interesting to attend popular IT events. I haven’t been to one for awhile. As informative as the presentations are what you can learn by observing the other participants. Here are my observations from the Amazon AWS Summit yesterday in NYC.

Amazon has some really knoweldgeable managers addressing the audience. These guys had clearly mastered the details.

Learned by Observing Others
I’m a follower not a leader when it comes to consumer gadgets. At this event basically everyone had a Smartphone. Blackberries were well-represented though not predominant. iPhones and other Android phones seemed be in great use (unfortunately I cannot tell one from the other). iPads were pretty common, too. As were small notebooks and the occasional standard laptop. Probably 15% of the audience had one of those devices. The conference gave out WiFi access, which required a username/password to be entered in a web page. That was pretty important as I could not get signal otherwise.

I learned that people now take pictures of slides they want to remember for later. Guess I have to get better at using my Smartphone camera! It’s a great idea, really.

It used to be that these events would be very male-dominated. That’s still the case, but not quite as much. Our lunch tables help 10 people each and there was on average one woman per table, so about 10%.

Now about AWS Itself
Lots and lots of companies are doing cool things with Amazon cloud services. Pinterest, PBS, Exfm, Vox even old-line companies like Shell. I don’t think any serious start-up would buy their own infrastructure today when Amazon has made it so easy and economical to put things in the cloud.

Amazon started the service in 2006 and thus are celebrating six years of cloud service. They have lowered prices 19 times. For me the most significant of those price drops was in early March when it became competitive, no, more than competitive to be considered against the pure hosting companies.

Amazon cloud services not counts about 60 service offerings. I don’t claim to understand even most of them, but the ones I do seem really well thought-out. They really deserve to be that Magic Quadrant leader that Gartner paints them out to be, leading in both vision and ability to execute.

S3 is for storing objects. You don’t care how the object is stored. Your reference to the object will be a URL. One example actual usage: storing images. Each image stored as an object in S3. This makes it easy to begin to use a content distribution network (CDN).

I use EC2 so I have some familiarity with it. Users are supposed to have some familiarity with the author of their image. Oops. I do not. News to me: they have a facility to import VM images.

In virtual private cloud (VPC) the user gets to extend his own private address space into Amazon Cloud. Cool. There is a Direct Connect option to avoid traditional VPN tunnels. Security groups offer a decent way to enforce security but I don’t totally get it.

I’m interested in EtherIP. From this summit I learned of a company that has a product for that. The company is Astaro and the appliance is RED (Remote Ethernet Device). Cool.

One molecular discovery company chained together 30000 Amazon cpu cores, ran it for three hours, for a total of 100,000 hours of compute time, and only paid $5,000/hour. All that horsepower together makes for the 50th fastest supercomputer in the world. The equipment value was about $22,000,000.

I guess attendance was at least 2,000 people. There were lots of younger people there as well as an ecosystem of supporting third-party companies.

The Python language was mentioned three or four times. Its star is on the rise.

I came as a private user of AWS. This is my story. I was disappointed that in all their use cases and examples, there was not one mention of individual users such as myself. It was all geared towards organizations. You get worried when you don’t see anyone like yourself out there. I even asked one of the speakers about that but he said that they take users like me as a given. The hard work was getting the enterprises comfortable with it. I’m not entirely convinced.

Amazon has an exciting cloud offering and they get it. Their customers include probably the most interesting companies on the planet.

3 replies on “Highlights from the AWS Summit in NYC April 19 2012”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *