It’s the same old question technology industry insiders and people like myself ask every year at this time: What will AWS announce at re:Invent this year? Sometimes our predictions are pretty good, sometimes they are very far off. But there’s one sure answer to the question of what AWS will announce at its enormous annual conference: “A whole lot of things!”
As AWS has grown exponentially, so has AWS re:Invent. In a typical year, it’s safe to say, there will be dozens of new AWS services, initiatives, and offerings announced at the splashy Las Vegas event. It can be hard to keep up with all the new things revealed each year.
The result over time? A bloated catalog of services that has become completely unwieldy. Gone are the days when there were just a few cloud services provided by AWS. At last count, there are over 200 AWS products and services involving computation, storage, database, machine learning, mobile, developer tools, business operations, analytics, and observability. And among those 200 services are tens of thousands of sub-services, features, and other capabilities. If you want to do something, chances are AWS has a service to provide it.
But this year just might be the exception. This is the 10th anniversary of re:Invent and the first re:Invent under the direction of new CEO Adam Selipsky, after former AWS CEO Andy Jassy moved on to take over all of Amazon from founder Jeff Bezos. I know both Adam and Andy. Andy recruited me into AWS, while Adam was my manager and champion back in 2009 when I created the Elastic Beanstalk service.
Back in those days, AWS was focused on doing just a few things really well, but as the years have gone by, the company has tried to become an “everything for everybody”-type of tool. Unfortunately, this has resulted in an untamed mess of service offerings. How many different methods does AWS have to operate a container? How many different storage solutions does it have? What’s the difference between Amazon WorkSpaces and WorkLink? What exactly does Amazon Neptune do? Why should I use RDS versus Aurora? Did you know that AWS even offers a satellite ground station as a service?
The term “out of control” very much applies here. But I believe Adam will attempt to bring AWS back under control. How will he do that? By focusing less on individual services and instead on solutions for industry verticals. Rather than seeing 25 data storage services that you need to choose from, you’ll hopefully see a healthcare management offering, a mobile game infrastructure offering, a manufacturing inventory management system, and a logistics management system. Vertical solutions to real-world problems, rather than simply a random set of services.
If AWS makes this shift, the Las Vegas re:Invent show will be known for the reveal of solid, usable product offerings, rather than simply longer checklists of features. And just maybe, AWS will lead the cloud infrastructure industry in a new direction, yet again.
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