AWS pours scorn on enterprise appeal of hybrid cloud model

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels denies that moving to a hybrid IT model is the right fit for the enterprise

The hybrid cloud should be treated as a stop on the enterprise’s overall journey to the cloud, rather than the final destination, according to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The cloud giant has repeatedly banged the drum for enterprises to start taking steps to ditch their datacentres and move everything to the cloud, while the likes of VMware and Microsoft have talked up the business benefits of adopting a more hybrid approach to IT delivery.

Speaking at the AWS Summit in London today, Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon.com, reiterated his firm’s stance on companies going “all-in” on its cloud platform, and described the move to hybrid cloud as just part of journey.

“Many of you may think what we’re promoting here is that cloud is an all or nothing decision,” he said. “You either go into the cloud or stay home. That is not the case. What we’ve built is a whole set of services that allow you to run both on-premise and in the cloud seamlessly together.

“All of these services are there to make hybrid IT possible. But you have to realise that,  in our eyes, hybrid IT is not the end point. For a long time, many of you will still have your own datacentres, but there will be less and less datacentres over time.”

Vogels added: “Hybrid IT is the path to more cloud services, as many more apps and services will move to AWS.”

Speaking to Computer Weekly after the keynote, Ian Massingham, head of UK evangelism at AWS, said the hybrid IT model is one Amazon has supported for some time with its portfolio of services designed to make it easier for end-users to integrate on-premise products with its cloud.

“All that has changed is consolidating and bringing together all those hybrid cloud features, and talking about them as a hybrid cloud strategy,” he said.

Massingham also hit out at the cloud-washing antics of AWS’s competitors, which he said were misappropriating the term “hybrid IT” in their marketing materials.

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“Lots of people who say hybrid cloud is going to be the end state – it’s no coincidence that they happen to be the people who would benefit from it being the end state,” he said.

“There is a little bit of misdirection by some parts of the IT world because you can’t really buy a hybrid cloud.

“You’re going to have your cloud services and other delivery models, and someone has to integrate those together. But there is nobody who is going to have a hybrid cloud service or product you can buy.”

AWS readily admits its early growth was fuelled largely by the appetite of startups that wanted to buy computing resources on an in-demand basis, rather than shell out for expensive on-premise systems that could do the same job.

Vogels continued during the morning keynote: “Five to 10 years ago, if you wanted to start a company in the internet space, you needed to take at least $5m in investment because you had to buy all this IT equipment and hire the best IT experts, because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to get off the ground.

“For a very long time, I have thought the whole investment circuit around startups has been indirect funding for the American server industry, as [this funding] has nothing to do with helping a startup get off the ground.”

For startups, using cloud meant they could spend more of the funding they receive on growing their business, rather than building out their IT estate, and this way of thinking is now catching on in the enterprise, too.

Enterprises have seen the light and know agility and being able to move fast and react fast to the feedback they’re getting from customers is the most important concept,” said Vogels.

“It is almost impossible to stay competitive in the digital world without making use of cloud services as it allows you to take your mind off your procurement cycle. Suddenly, capacity planning becomes easier because it no longer exists.”

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I can understand their support of hybrid solutions as a stepping stone to pure cloud, but it just seems like stating it’s not the end point is just self-serving. To play on Vogel’s words - lots of people who say pure cloud is going to be the end state – it’s no coincidence that they happen to be the people who would benefit from it being the end state.
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