AWS re:Invent 2021: Few new services suggest AWS is maturing (in a good way)

Commentary: AWS did not fill re:Invent 2021 with new product bulletins. As a substitute, AWS appears to be making an attempt to assist clients make higher use of what they have already got.


Attendees stroll by means of an expo corridor throughout AWS re:Invent 2021, a convention hosted by Amazon Net Companies, at The Venetian Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Picture: Noah Berger/Getty Pictures for Amazon Net Companies

“Nevertheless transformational AWS was again in [its early] days, it selected a moderately conservative path for a very powerful two hours of its yr,” Tom Krazit famous after AWS CEO Adam Selipsky’s re:Invent 2021 keynote. That is a well mannered approach of claiming Selipsky did not announce a lot. Certain, there was the gee-whiz non-public 5G community (gee-whiz as a result of it is technically fascinating, not as a result of tens of millions of enterprises will need it), and it is spectacular to see continued innovation within the firm’s ARM-based Graviton chip household, however every thing else felt … samesy. 

This is likely to be the perfect signal that AWS is rising up.

A brand new form of innovation for AWS

This isn’t to recommend that AWS engineers are sitting round, lazily having fun with the spoils of years of service launches. (Disclosure: I previously labored for AWS.) Removed from it. As Gartner analyst Lydia Leong stressed, “We’re largely previous the times when a #reinvent would include a ton of brand-new main providers. There are nonetheless IT markets that AWS hasn’t eaten but, however a lot of what is being launched now’s incremental capabilities (which could nonetheless be spectacular engineering feats).” No, it is not that AWS is not “innovating on clients’ behalf,” as they wish to say, however that the type of innovation has modified.

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Extra innovation-through-integration, because it had been. Much less “here is this new factor you did not know you wanted [e.g., serverless]” and extra “listed here are enhancements to what we already supply.” 

To wit … when was the final time that AWS did not announce a minimum of one new database at re:Invent? (Charles Fitzgerald quipped throughout Selipsky’s keynote, “30 minutes in. Still no new databases.“) This time, AWS introduced a sequence of latest options for current databases to make them incrementally higher (e.g., Amazon DynamoDB Commonplace-Rare Entry desk class, serving to clients scale back DynamoDB prices by as much as 60%). This kind of factor is arguably extra customer-obsessed, to make use of the AWS lingo, than one more purpose-built database.

Taming the AWS complexity beast

It is nice that AWS did not “dive deeper” into product proliferation, however AWS additionally did not do a lot to begin organizing its chaotic mess of 200-plus providers. Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady was clear on this: “If AWS has a shiny future of upper degree abstractions, as I’ve argued they do, the longer term will not be this yr.” O’Grady wrote about this in June 2021, arguing that “[I]t’s been evident for a while that its present market dominance apart, AWS’ quickly rising portfolio was a legal responsibility in sure contexts as a lot as a power.” 


Amazon Net Companies CEO Adam Selipsky delivers a keynote deal with in the course of the AWS re:Invent 2021 convention at The Venetian Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Picture: Noah Berger/Getty Pictures for Amazon Net Companies

AWS is fond of claiming that it is buyer obsessed, and, in my expertise working there, that is largely true. However it’s equally true, a minimum of from what I’ve seen, that clients are emphatically, unequivocally not asking AWS to roll its personal service for each product class recognized to humankind. However what clients are asking AWS to do is to make sense of its Byzantine array of providers. Forrester analyst Boris Evelson steered that AWS should “lead with solving business problems,” to which dbInsight principal Tony Baer responded, “A primary step could be putting the pieces together rather than requiring customers to do it.”

But AWS did not actually say a lot about service synthesis at re:Invent 2021. The closest it got here was throughout Selipsky’s keynote, by which he talked a bit about vertical options: “Over the previous couple of years, we have constructed abstractions or higher-level providers that make it even simpler and much more accessible for folks to eat the cloud and work together with AWS throughout a variety of industries, from well being care, the place we have launched focused providers like Amazon Well being Lake to monetary providers or manufacturing or automotive.” He went on to speak about AWS Automotive for example, and introduced a monetary services-focused partnership with Goldman Sachs to construct a finance-oriented cloud. He then concluded, “We’ll proceed to construct extra of those abstractions on prime of our current foundational providers, collaborating with trade leaders on new choices or constructing brand-new purposes.” 

All for the great. 

As I heard somebody say at re:Invent 2021 this week, “I wish to suppose we’re beginning to ‘rationalize’ greater than we’re persevering with to ‘produce.'” It seems that such “rationalization” is each bit as progressive and arguably extra necessary at this section of the corporate’s existence. Enterprises not solely need to determine use the perfect of AWS native providers, however in addition they must pair them with their current infrastructure, which is why AWS Mainframe Modernization was the very first product that Selipsky addressed and probably a very powerful factor talked about throughout all of re:Invent 2021 (the Graviton3 chips excepted, maybe). 

Sure, mainframes. Impossibly uninteresting, but additionally a permanent anchor holding enterprises again from modernizing. Because the folks working mainframes age out of the workforce, AWS is throwing these enterprises a lifeline, serving to them embrace a future constructed into the cloud. It is a optimistic, customer-centric method.

Much less so are the 200-plus providers that clients are made to wade by means of. In response to Selipsky’s assertion that “YES! [Customers] want all of those providers,” Duckbill analyst and bête noire for AWS, Corey Quinn, wrote: “I guarantee you, whereas AWS wants to supply all of them, ‘YOU’ do not need to collect them all as if they were Pokémon, dear reader.” 

Disclosure: I used to work for AWS and now work for MongoDB, however the views expressed herein are mine alone

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