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Cloud has done its bit to level the technological playing field for SMEs and enterprises, but it is how companies use their data that determines how successful they will be, says Amazon.com CTO Werner Vogels.
During a keynote address at the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in London, Vogels said cloud has had an “egalitarian” impact on IT by ensuring everyone has equal access to the same level and type of services.
“Every company, large or small, has access to the same servers, databases, storage, mobile services and analytics tools,” he said. “And if you can’t develop the algorithms yourself, you can buy them.”
Data is now emerging as the point of competitive difference for companies, with investments in machine learning tools and technologies now considered business-critical, he added.
“It is all about data. The data you have as a company, the way you use it to engage your customers, to build better business processes and build better products is really going to be the way companies are going to compete,” said Vogels.
“If you look at companies’ first-quarter financial reporting, machine learning is probably mentioned in every financial quarterly report when they say what they’re going to focus on to engage their customers better than ever before.”
The conversation around cloud has shifted significantly over the past decade, with end-users now less concerned about what is going on within their IT infrastructure as they focus instead on what they can build on top of it.
To this end, the days when AWS could be simply categorised as an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider are long gone, given that its product portfolio has now expanded to include database, machine learning and analytics tools, which are all geared towards helping customers do more with their data, said Vogels.
“This is no longer infrastructure as a service. That might be something we were in back in 2009 or 2010, but it has always been the belief that customers didn’t really care what was called infrastructure as a service or platform as a service, or whatever. They just wanted those services that address their problems and challenges, and to stitch them together as a web of services,” he said.
“Whether you need to do IT development, mobile development, whether you want to do machine learning, analytics in an ad hoc or structured fashion, all the tools are available for you to use.”
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Elsewhere in the keynote, the company outlined its commitment to speeding up the time it takes enterprises to procure cloud services through the AWS Marketplace, which it claims is used by more than 170,000 customers to buy cloud offerings from its ISV partners.
When buying services through the marketplace, it is not uncommon for enterprises to encounter delays as contract negotiations are undertaken and resolved, said Gavin Jackson, managing director at AWS for the UK and Ireland, which can put the brakes on some IT projects.
“Customers are continually telling us that negotiating software contracts is hard, it takes time and is costly, and you end up negotiating the same clauses over and over again, and – if you’re a large company – you could do that 1,500 times,” said Jackson.
To address this, the company is rolling out a service called Enterprise Contract for AWS Marketplace, which allows companies to make multiple software purchases on a single standardised contract template, in which some of the more problematic clauses have already been worked through.
“All of those finer details you would have had to have worked through independently are all built into the enterprise contract,” said Jackson. “It means procurement can now go from months of negotiations to minutes. Just imagine the savings of time and energy that goes into that, and it means the technical teams can deploy software instantly.”