If the cloud market were March Madness, Amazon Web Services would be the first seed. While cloud computing providers like Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Microsoft struggle to compete in what's becoming a vendor-saturated market, AWS makes moves to release enterprise-enticing services, which keeps it at the top.
But that doesn't mean Amazon has had it easy. AWS is still chasing enterprise support, and it has suffered more than one well-publicized cloud outage. Looking through the top five newsworthy AWS stories shows a company that can still leap over obstacles with little setback to its top position.
A crack in the cloud: Why the Amazon outage caught so many by surprise
Last year's cloud service outage at Amazon was so newsworthy not just because it was an example of a cloud leader's failure, but because it showed a disparity between what users expected from cloud computing and what it was able to deliver. AWS's slow response to customers' inquiries and general lack of communication had users enraged, causing some users to question their use of AWS cloud services -- or the use of cloud computing at all. Eventually AWS apologized for the outage and issued 10 days of service credit for all affected users. It's more than a year later and AWS is still on top, proving that even mishandled outages can't topple a cloud king.
Amazon cloud measures up to enterprise at last
Cloud vendors aim to infiltrate where the money is, and the money is in enterprise IT. But enterprises aren't quick to adopt an IT infrastructure that means less control over resources, no matter the benefits of on-demand, flexible cloud computing. But can Amazon, the cloud market leader, measure up to enterprises? At least some enterprises think so.
AWS is still on top, proving that even mishandled outages can't topple a cloud king.
AWS has worked to release services aimed toward enterprise needs, such as GovCloud Region, which is focused on the complex regulatory requirements of the U.S. government. But while some enterprises use AWS for disaster recovery and other non-mission-critical processes, the question remains as to whether enterprises will ever truly trust the cloud.
AWS Dynamo DB improves on SimpleDB, but does it threaten SQL Azure?
In an attempt to win over Microsoft SQL Azure cloud customers, Amazon Web Services released a non-relational database called DynamoDB. While many cloud experts saw this NoSQL database as an improvement over its existing SimpleDB, at least some claimed that AWS was barking up the wrong tree if it thought it could lure SQL Azure customers, since the two don't directly compete. However, many cloud admins saw benefits in using the cloud-based database for big data, a major buzzword in the IT industry. AWS Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels thought that with DynamoDB the company "finally cracked the code of what developers want," but is it enough to capture ever-elusive enterprise support?
Amazon attempts to win over enterprises with cloud storage gateway
AWS is not immune to complaints, despite its prominence in the cloud computing market. Many enterprises worried about inconsistencies between their existing, on-premises data storage -- particularly of mission-critical data -- and the AWS public cloud. However, Amazon was listening to these complaints and responded by releasing AWS Storage Gateway, allowing users to store data in private clouds while maintaining a backup in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). This may be old-hat technologically, but what AWS loses in creativity it could make up for in perception as an enterprise cloud player.
Still single? Blame the recent Amazon EC2 outages
We begin and end on Amazon outage stories -- proving that even the cloud computing giants suffer setbacks. The important thing, though, is how they recover. These two recent AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) outages may not have tarnished AWS' glowing reputation, but it did affect online dating site WhatsYourPrice.com. The Amazon EC2 outage left hundreds of people dateless when they were unable to access the site for their special someone's contact information. However, even affected companies are quick to forgive AWS for its transgressions, saying "It's not you, it's me," and taking responsibility for not preparing for an outage themselves. The same attitude seemed to prevail after Amazon's latest outage on October 22, but will AWS customers be as forgiving if outages continue to happen?
Caitlin White is associate site editor for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This was first published in October 2012