Once an IT vendor reaches a certain size, they generally start to slow down in terms of the number of innovations that they can bring to market simply if for no other reason than inertia. Amazon Web Services (AWS) at the AWS re:Invent 2017 conference this week appears to be the exception to that rule after launching a slew of services that promise to transform everything from the way developers build applications to how end users interact with them.
In terms of offerings that are likely to have the most impact on end users, a version of the Alexa digital assistant for business users has the potential to transform how individuals interact with applications. Standard user interfaces won’t disappear anytime soon. But Amazon does envision a world where an Alexa for Business service unfurled this week will emerge as a primary means for interacting with backend services, starting with a variety of third-party services from Splunk, Concur, Salesforce, Polycom, SuccessFactors, RingCentral and CloudWatch.
AWS CTO Werner Vogels says end users today are struggling with having to master different applications to perform multiple tasks.
“People are starting to have application fatigue,” says Vogels.
Vogels says voice-enabled applications will drive a wave of innovation, especially when it comes to Internet of Things (IoT) applications, where many of the use cases will involve humans interacting with neural networks hosted on a public cloud.
To make it simpler to build those applications, AWS also extended its portfolio of machine and deep learning services to make it simpler to train artificial intelligence (AI) models using, for example, a video camera jointly developed with Intel. Those models will be driven by IoT applications running at the edge of a network that will be developed using an AWS Lambda functional programming model that is tightly coupled to a proprietary serverless computing framework running on the AWS cloud. To accelerate the development of those applications, AWS is now also making available an operating system for IoT devices as well as services to automate the management of those devices.
AWS is also extending the application development services it makes available to include new capabilities such as graph databases as well as instances of the Kubernetes container orchestration platform that it will manage on behalf of customers or another service that automates all the underlying infrastructure management on their behalf.
Finally, AWS also announced it is making available a bare-metal edition of its compute service as an alternative to IT organizations that want to deploy their own hypervisors or containers, and an Amazon GuardDuty security service intended to make it simpler for developers to proactively respond to new security threats.
Put it all together and it is clear that AWS ambitions now far exceed simple IT infrastructure. There’s almost no aspect of IT that AWS will not in some form or another address. The issue that many IT organizations will have to address next is to what degree they are comfortable from both a technology and business perspective with relying on the compute arm of Amazon to provide those services for them.