By Jo Peterson and Manon Buettner
Industry-leading service providers such as Rackspace and Savvis took 12 years (and some acquisitions) to reach $1 billion in revenue. Yet in half that time, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has gone from zero to nearly $2 billion and more than a half-million customers — an absolutely stunning rise especially considering the non-traditional sales and marketing tactics employed to launch an entirely new delivery model.
Chances are that most channel partners have at least one customer utilizing AWS. It has become so successful that one analyst pegs its market share in the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) space at more than 70 percent, as compared with its nearest competitor Rackspace, which has slightly more than 10 percent of the market. But while we’ve all heard of AWS, do we really know where it plays? More importantly, how do we intelligently compete with this offering?
The fact of the matter is, our customers know what it is and are using it whether IT management knows it or not! Further, it is often considered the baseline by which other compute and storage alternatives are gauged. Our job as consultants and agents is to internalize the AWS offering and communicate to our clients where it makes sense to consider alternate private or public clouds based on their business, technical and cultural requirements.
In order to get up to speed on AWS, we’ll highlight four key areas:
- Product portfolio
- Differentiators (strengths, weaknesses, potential traps)
- Terms (pricing, contracts, support and SLAs)
- Competitive landscape and futures
AWS has a rich IaaS product portfolio, with 11 distinct product groups: compute, content delivery, database, deployment/management, application services, software, networking, payments and billing, storage, Web traffic and workforce. The most well-known and referenced of these are the compute and storage offerings, which include Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3).
EC2 first launched in 2006 as a commercial Web service allowing small companies and individuals to rent computers upon which to run their own computer applications. Similarly, Amazon’s S3 offers data storage for retrieval at any time and allows users to read, write and delete objects containing from 1B to 5TB of data each. The number of objects you can store is unlimited. So simply put, EC2 replaces servers while S3 replaces non-production storage.