Cloud computing is more than an essential part of Amazon’s revenue growth. For Amazon, the cloud is part of a broader strategy to create an intelligent and continuously evolving cloud-based super platform. This platform, with Amazon Web Services (AWS) at its core, enables Amazon to push into new markets from communications to fashion by powering the growth of other businesses. On August 2 in Chicago, Amazon showcased the state of the art in cloud computing at one of the AWS Global Summits. The Chicago event underscored how the cloud is not just getting bigger – it’s getting smarter.

During the keynote, Stephen Orban, general manager, New Initiative, AWS Marketplace, was joined by other speakers who discussed how businesses are using AWS cloud solutions to improve how they operate.

For example:

  • Agero, a provider of software enabled vehicle and driver safety services, uses AWS for high-speed, low-latency, high-volume transactions.
  • Marmon Holdings, a Berkshire Hathaway company that provides cold storage appliances to restaurants, uses AWS IoT (Internet of Things) to monitor the temperature of freezers and alert technicians if the temperatures rises above the max threshold.
  • GE Healthcare uses AWS Machine Learning (AWS SageMaker Service and more) to analyze X-ray data and continuously improve the algorithms that can detect abnormal areas. With the help of machine learning, GE Healthcare reduces the time for risk detection from days to hours, significantly improving the quality of healthcare.

All these companies are using AWS in different ways. AWS is more than a hosting system. It’s an AI-infused hosting system with lower infrastructure cost, high availability, and reliability. AWS is easy to launch, is low latency in nature, responds quickly, manages huge volumes, is scalable, with resource-based pricing. As the examples from the summit show, AWS applies machine learning to provide smarter algorithms and reduce human effort and error.

The key themes emerging from the keynote were:

  • Fast pace of growth for AWS (AWS has more than 125 services across over 50 availability zones).
  • Fast pace of Innovation: many, many new features are being added every year.
  • Flexibility and ability to fit different needs: broad spectrum of EC2 instances for speed, small latency, big data, huge number of transactions per second, and optimized memory.
  • The advantages of cloud computing: no infrastructure to support, easy launch, rapid scalability, the ability to manage everything at the container level, and resource-based pricing.

“Speed Matters in Business”

Orban set the stage by quoting Jeff Bezos: “Speed matters in business.” Customers expect businesses to respond rapidly to their ever-changing needs, which means that it’s no longer OK to deploy new software solutions once or twice a week. Businesses need to deploy multiple times a day. The cloud enables rapid – and smarter – deployment.

Migrating to the Cloud

Orban also identified different ways businesses can migrate their operations to the cloud. As he explained, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Businesses can adopt any number of approaches depending on how “all-in” they want to be and their budgets. He discussed four main migration paths:

  • Re-host, or “lift and shift”: migrate systems on the cloud without any modifications by using AWS Server Migration Service. This approach gives a business a foot in the door of cloud services. The approach requires almost no development but lacks the advantages of going serverless.
  • Re-platform, or “lift, tinker, and shift”: small optimizations to the applications when going to the cloud. The advantage is that customers can figure out the critical areas and modify only those that need to take advantage of the cloud.
  • Re-purchase, or “drop and shop”: replacing existing self-run systems or services with available AWS or third party cloud services. This approach swaps the cost of capital expenditure and in-house support to pay-as-you-go monthly cost.
  • Re-architect, or “rewrite and decouple” a migration that entails complete re-architecture and implementation of an application. This approach is the most expensive solution but maximizes the value of the cloud by creating a well architected cloud framework.

Orban stressed that you don’t need to migrate everything you own immediately. You can do it in steps.

Data Options

I attended many sessions that covered nitty-gritty technology related to the cloud. For instance, one session discussed how to create a well architected cloud framework. Another discussed different options for AWS data storage. These details demonstrate just how far-reaching the cloud is. Migrating and storing data is not as easy as waving a magic wand. For instance, depending on the storage you need, the pricing model can differ:

  • Elastic Block Storage (EBS): permanent block storage, which can be encrypted but is not by default. Volume can be attached to only one EC2 instance and is redundant by default. When striped, fault protection disappears. Data on EBS is immediately available and accessible.
  • Elastic File Storage (EFS): shared scalable file system. Available only on Linux. It is purely a back-end file system that allows multiple EC2 instances to mount it and access it simultaneously.
  • Simple Storage (S3): object storage with binary files. There is no limit to the number of files that can be stored. The maximum size of a single file is 1 TB. Each file gets automatically assigned a URL for easy access.
  • S3 Reduced Redundancy Storage (S3 RRS): an S3 storage that allows to store data with less redundancy in a single availability zone and at a significantly lower cost.
  • Glacier: long term storage, low cost. All data is encrypted. A common practice for moving files into Glacier is to create S3 policies to move files Glacier after certain period of time.

Onward with the Cloud

The Global Summit demonstrated both Amazon’s leadership and commitment to powering a vast business infrastructure based on the cloud. Embracing the cloud requires a commitment from the business, too. Our suggestion is that clients create a cloud transition strategy that aligns the right resources, timeline, and budget to your business goals. Contact Moonshot. We can help you learn how to use the cloud to create lovable products with velocity.

Tonya Momchev

Tonya Momchev

Software Architect