Amazon will have to take a more hands-on approach if it wants to broaden cloud adoption among its enterprise IT customers.
The company is generally a hands-off service provider, but many enterprises need help learning about and organizing the disparate bits and pieces that currently make up its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings. This additional education -- plus better integration between Amazon Web Services (AWS) and on-premises data centers -- will help Amazon public cloud adoption grow in the enterprise, partners and experts said.
"Amazon's traditionally been … almost like this big Lego store, where everything's deconstructed, they're in big buckets and you've got to pick and choose which pieces you want to build," said Kris Bliesner, CEO of 2nd Watch Inc., a cloud computing consultancy and systems integrator based in Liberty Lake, Wash.
Amazon has made available a few instruction sets, called CloudFormation Templates, for such applications as Microsoft SharePoint and Active Directory, plus website-building applications Drupal and WordPress. But there should be templates that go beyond single applications, Bliesner said. "Those kinds of concepts will help dispel the security, compliance and scalability questions that these enterprise guys have," he said.
Amazon's Platform as a Service offering, Elastic Beanstalk, is often the alternative presented by AWS to enterprises struggling with the complexity of do-it-yourself IaaS, but enterprise IT architects need more control over the environment than Elastic Beanstalk offers, Bliesner said. "Enterprise IT shops cringe at that stuff," he said. "They don't want the ability for their developers or anybody else to put stuff into production. They want to manage that."
Integrating with the Amazon public cloud
Enterprise Amazon adoption could also increase if the provider offered better integration between its services and existing corporate IT assets, Bliesner said. For example, many of today's network monitoring tools, such as intrusion-detection systems, use a multicast network topology; but Amazon's virtualized networks are strictly unicast. And Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels has pooh-poohed the value of private cloud in recent public comments.
Special report: Amazon's enterprise image problem
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"In a lot of cases, our customers are asking us, 'I've got this investment in VMware. How do I extend this into AWS so that AWS can be an extension of my VMware install?'" Bliesner said. "And today, that's super-clunky. Either a third party is going to have to build it, or Amazon is going to have to get serious about doing heavier integration with the virtualization vendors."
Enterprise IT pros also will need help understanding what exactly they can do with Amazon's various cloud resources -- especially given the provider's rapid product release schedule, said Kent Langley, vice president at San Francisco-based digital consultancy SolutionSet LLC.
"This is really difficult for people to keep up with -- even people who are dealing with all of these products every day," Langley said. "I think they have to find a way to get people to understand what they are now, not what they were even two years ago, because they're completely different today."
Amazon could also garner more enterprise credibility by opening up its data centers for tours, like "literally every other infrastructure provider out there," said Carl Brooks, analyst with Boston's Tier1 Research.
Boosting Amazon public cloud adoption through pricing
Another way Amazon could make AWS more tempting to enterprises is through better pricing -- by offering more bundled sets of services or possibly "all-you-can-eat" deals that mimic enterprise license agreements, said David Linthicum, chief technology officer and founder of Blue Mountain Labs, a cloud advisory and development firm. "That's one of those things where, if the CIO doesn't like it, you bring it to the CFO and they love it," he said.
Linthicum also is looking for an EC2 equivalent of Amazon's low-tier storage offering, Glacier -- server time that would be offered at a lower reliability level, perhaps, than EC2's current instances, but for about a tenth of the price. "That would be a knockout punch," he said.