Amazon recently released Cloud Drive for iOS, a mobile app for the iOS platform that serves as the counterpart to the Cloud Drive app for Android that was released in June. Previously, iOS users had access to an Amazon app that enabled access to Amazon Photos, which were automatically uploaded to the Amazon Cloud. With the release of Cloud Drive for IOS, however, iOS users can read files within the Amazon Cloud Drive, including the preview of spreadsheets and presentations. The app allows users to share files via a link or email attachment and post the file to social media applications. Importantly, users cannot upload files to the Amazon Cloud using either the Android or iOS app, which renders the app bereft of crucial functionality in comparison to competing mobile apps from the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive. The lack of Cloud Drive app functionality is surprising for Amazon, which historically has differentiated itself by way of the richness of the pre-configured features within its cloud-based product line. As such, the app illustrates the immaturity of Cloud Drive within the larger portfolio of cloud-based storage platforms and raises questions about the depth of Amazon’s commitment to Cloud Drive, even though the industry can reasonably can expect significant enhancements to both the Android and Apple mobile apps in forthcoming months.
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure took the two leadership positions in its latest Magic Quadrant report for Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide. Amazon is the clear market leader and, according to Gartner, claims more than 10 times the computing capacity of the other 14 vendors represented in its Magic Quadrant report. Other vendors represented in the report include Google, Rackspace, IBM SoftLayer and VMware vCloud Air. Gartner estimates that the IaaS space will experience growth of 33% in 2015 and become a $16.5B market globally with an annual growth rate of 29.1% through 2019. In a press release about the report, Gartner noted that “the market for cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is in a state of upheaval, as many service providers are shifting their strategies after failing to gain enough market traction.” The report’s finding that Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure represent the two market leaders means that the rest of the space will need to significantly differentiate their product offerings to flourish in an increasingly competitive space.
ObserveIT today announced the launch of ObserveIT CloudThreat for Amazon Web Services (AWS), a free IT security solution that delivers analytics on user activity and behavior. ObserveIT’s CloudThreat for Amazon Web Services protects hosted environments against unauthorized user behavior by proactively identifying unusual user behavior on the part of hackers or malicious code that has been introduced to a specific AWS hosted environment. Deployed as a “lightweight agent” on Amazon Linux AMIs, ObserveIT CloudThreat for AWS integrates with Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon’s proprietary cloud and network monitoring solution by means of web services APIs. CloudThreat enables customers to augment the security of their AWS deployments by leveraging the product’s deep analytics regarding user activity, audit trails of actions performed within a specific infrastructure and attention to the implementation and evolution of role based control, particularly in cases where a user arrogates administrative privileges to themselves in ways that may be suggestive of pernicious threats to the infrastructure. ObserveIT CloudThreat for Amazon Web Services is available on the AWS marketplace.
After beginning its startup trajectory by leveraging Amazon Web Services and then subsequently reverting away from AWS in favor of internally managed datacenters, Zynga is reverting to AWS again. Zynga CEO Mark Pincus explained the decision to re-contract with AWS last Wednesday by noting, “There’s a lot of places that are not strategic for us to have scale and we think not appropriate, like running our own data centers. We’re going to let Amazon do that.” As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Zynga’s decision to shut down its internal data centers represents part of a larger initiative to cut costs by $100M, including an 18% cut in its workforce by the end of the year. Amazon’s price reductions over the last year render it more affordable than ever and underscores the value proposition of cloud computing vendors that can deliver on demand, pay for use computing that can morph in conjunction with the changing needs of its customers. Moreover, the larger operational agility of the cloud will enhance the ability of Zynga to continue tweaking its business model as it aims to restore confidence amongst investors after failing to deliver on the much hyped promise of its 2011 IPO.
451 Research Group Report Shows AWS Leads IaaS Space Amidst Increased Competition From Microsoft Azure And Rackspace
According to a 451 Research Vendor Window assessment, the battle for IaaS leadership has intensified even though Amazon Web Services (AWS) remains the clear front-runner. Respondents to the 451 vendor evaluations revealed that 57% of enterprise customers use AWS whereas Microsoft Azure is used by 42% of customers. AWS was cited as the most important customer in 35% of all cases, ahead of Microsoft Azure, which garnered 20% of votes in the same category. Rackspace earned the highest ratings for the IaaS vendor capable of fulfilling Guaranteed SLAs and was tied with AWS for its ability to fulfill customer needs. While AWS received high ratings with respect to Experience and Technical Innovation, Microsoft Azure, in contrast, was rated lower than most of its competitors with respect to Experience and Support for Open-Source Software. Meanwhile, in the private cloud market, the 451 Research Vendor Window Assessment found that VMware claims a presence in 70% of enterprises with its ESX and vCloud virtualization platforms. Nevertheless, the survey also found that more than 70% of VMware customers have deployed other solutions for private clouds such as OpenStack or Microsoft Cloud OS, for example.
Michelle Bailey, Senior Vice President, Digital Infrastructure and Data Strategy at the 451 Research Group, remarked on the significance of the findings as follows:
While the 2015 Vendor Window for IaaS shows Amazon Web Services as the clear leader based on multiple metrics, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace and VMware’s vCloud Air are becoming competitive challengers. As more mainstream customers move business-critical workloads to cloud environments, the decision criteria for evaluating potential vendors change relative to early cloud adopters, and in turn so do the vendors under consideration.
Here, Bailey notes how the IaaS assessment reveals the emergence of “competitive challengers” to the leadership role of Amazon Web Services as the criteria for IaaS vendor selection evolves in relation to the evolving maturity of cloud adoption within the enterprise. The bottom line here is that, even though Amazon Web Services remains the most widely used and, in many ways, respected vendor within the IaaS space, enterprises are increasingly reviewing alternative options to AWS, particularly as the space features an increasing number of robust options that can variously go toe to toe with AWS regarding attributes such as customer service and ability to support SLAs. More importantly, the battle for IaaS market share is likely to become even more competitive as the progressive maturity of Big Data technologies and analytics means that enterprises are likely to seek cloud platforms that can not only support, but also streamline and simplify the adoption of Hadoop and NoSQL. Regardless, exciting times are ahead for the cloud industry as IaaS vendors mature their product and service offerings in ways that give customers the confidence to select multiple vendors to minimize risks of vendor lock-in while concomitantly enriching their knowledge of the IaaS space by sampling the heterogeneity of offerings available on the market today.
Amazon Web Services recently announced the availability of machine learning technology that allows developers to create predictive analytics by using the same algorithms that Amazon uses to manage its supply chain inventory and operations. Amazon’s Machine Learning platform empowers developers and data scientists with the ability to identify patterns and predictive analytics for data stored in Amazon S3, Amazon RedShift and Amazon Relational Database Service. By using Amazon Machine Learning, developers can obtain analytic insights without writing custom-built predictive analytics-based applications that require complicated scripting, debugging, code deployment and application management. In addition to enjoying the benefits of preconfigured machine learning libraries and wizards that accelerate access to pattern recognition and predictive analytics, Amazon Machine Learning enables customers to enjoy the benefits of a scalable platform capable of generating billions of predictions per day in real-time. Popular use cases for Amazon’s Machine Learning technology include the detection of fraud, the ability to personalize web-related content and deliver targeted marketing campaigns that iteratively become more effective in conjunction with the evolving sophistication of the predictive model. Amazon’s Machine Learning platform competes directly with Microsoft Azure’s Machine Learning platform that was released in public preview in July 2014. By rendering available the same technologies used by Amazon’s data scientists, Amazon adds yet another incentive for customers to leverage its ever expanding portfolio of cloud and big data products and services. The increasing availability of machine learning technologies underscores the democratization of analytics enabled by the contemporary cloud and big data revolution, even though many of the solutions available on the market remain proprietary and attached to usage of a larger IaaS platform.