AWS kept the announcements coming at a frenetic pace this week
Deep breath. That was quite a deluge of announcements this week at the AWS:reinvent customer conference in Las Vegas. The pace left journalists covering the event dripping in sweat as they put us through our paces like a trainer at a brutal workout with one announcement after another. To give you a sense of the breadth of coverage, we had 25 stories on TechCrunch this week just related to this event — and we didn’t cover everything by any means. It certainly shows that in spite of its commanding lead in the infrastructure market, AWS has no intention of sitting still and waiting for the competition to catch up. As the Seattle Times put it, Amazon unveils new cloud services at the pace of a startup. Yet this is a division of a huge online retail giant, not a stand-alone cloud services company, and certainly not a startup. It’s one that’s on an $18 billion revenue run rate and still growing at over 40 percent. The way it keeps that kind of sustained growth is by never taking anything for granted. If the company is running behind on a particularly hot area like it seems to have been in machine learning and artificial intelligence, it will throw resources at the problem. While Amazon has cracked product-specific AI with Alexa voice recognition and the Echo product line, it still has lacked general purpose AI and machine learning tools. Fear not though, as it introduced a number of new services this week to fill in the machine learning hole. There was a new translation service, a nifty transcription service and Amazon Rekognition Video service, which provides developers real-time analysis of video content. ￼ The company also introduced a piece of hardware called AWS Deeplens, a smart video camera aimed at developers with built-in image recognition algorithms. And if you wanted some help generating your own machine learning models, Amazon had something for you there too when it released SageMaker, a tool for building and deploying your own machine learning models using pre-configured algorithms (or bringing you own). There were also several updates to Alexa including a push to bring it into business with several partnerships announced including Microsoft, Capital One and Concur, among others. ￼ Unlike machine learning, AWS has been embracing containerization and micro-services for some time, but it lacked its own version of Kubernetes, the popular container orchestration tool. That drought ended this week with the Amazon EKS announcement, a version of Kubernetes of its very own. There was also Amazon Neptune, a new graph database that provides the way to show connections between data very quickly. It’s actually surprising that this product is just being introduced this year because it’s the same kind of technology Amazon has been using for years to tell you if you bought one product, you might like other similar products. The company pushed further into IoT with new operating system, security and analytics services. It extended its reach into databases including a new serverless variety. Much like Lambda, the serverless computing service AWS introduced last year for applications that don’t need a continuous connection to a server, the Aurora Serverless database is designed for applications that don’t need a continuous connection to a database. There was plenty more, certainly something for every customer and every hot area of tech, except for perhaps blockchain, which for some reason Jassy says his company has chosen not to embrace as a service at this time. That didn’t stop them from having a host of partners showing off their wares at the show this week. And the company even took time out of its busy week to set a Guinness world record for the largest chicken wing eating contest. While some will rightly complain that Amazon simply waits for others to create something and then uses their vast resources to swoop in and create a similar service, the fact is that Amazon keeps on running as fast at it can, as though it hears the footfalls of its competitors off in the distance. In many ways, AWS reflects the personality of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who famously has stated that every day is Day One. In other words, don’t get too comfortable or your competition will eat your lunch. If this week was any indication, the cloud services division has taken that directive very seriously.