The Cloud is Moving From Innovation to Maturity
Each year, AWS hosts re:Invent, a sprawling conference that is equal parts pageant and training. Over 50,000 people attended, with thousands of educational sessions and four separate keynote speeches announcing their most significant new products and features of the coming year. While AWS continuously announces updates throughout the year, the best announcements are saved for the megaphone that is re:Invent. This year was no exception.
One of the most significant announcements was the growth of AWS—46% year-over-year, leaving them on track for $27B in revenue in 2018. There are fewprecedents for a company so large growing so fast. The growth is particularly interesting because AWS did not grow its market share over the past year, steadily floating around 52% according to most analysts. AWS is the dominant market leader in the hottest sector of technology—one of the hottest sectors of the economy in fact.
AWS worked hard this year to present a balanced view of all major areas of its platform—compute, databases, analytics, machine learning, IoT, and platform management were all well represented. This highlights that these core areas are maturing yet continuing to evolve. The announcements were consistently significant but never earth-shattering. They did manage to sneak in two blockchain announcements, while calmly pointing out that blockchain’s most touted use case—immutable ledgers—is best implemented differently. And so, they deftly announced a blockchain service and a ledger database at the same time, pleasing both blockchain champions and skeptics at once.
Two of the dominant trends were Kubernetes and cloud security, each receiving significant attention from AWS in its keynotes and each well represented by both vendors and training sessions throughout the event. For very different reasons, each is becoming a critical focus area for businesses migrating to the cloud.
AWS dragged feet on its managed Kubernetes service for a lot longer than most people expected. I suspect this is because of the democratizing power of Kubernetes—in the process of creating a rich, mature platform to run containers, it also becomes a portable environment that can run largely the same on prem, in AWS, Azure or Google. Their initial Kubernetes service, EKS, was met with tepid reviews. Many continued to use other services like Kops to create and manage their clusters, ignoring EKS for quite a while. However, the EKS service matured dramatically over the last year and has significant benefits compared to any other managed Kubernetes service. AWS recognized that its customers wanted Kubernetes so that they could more fully embrace the cloud, not so they could more readily jump ship. There were hundreds of EKS talks this year, with people who had no chance of making it in waiting nonetheless because the topic was such a priority to them. 2018 was the year for Kubernetes to establish itself as the de facto choice for running containers at scale, and we expect 2019 to be the year where Kubernetes adoption for production environments takes off exponentially. AWS is well-positioned to receive a huge share of that growth.
AWS has always focused on security, understanding intuitively that customers needed to understand the vast differences between securing applications in the data center compared to in the cloud. Every re:Invent focuses heavily on security announcements and training, and well funded vendors fill the expo halls with their security solutions. The difference this year was not the focus but rather the maturity of the conversation. AWS has continued to mature its Cloud Adoption Framework and last year published a white paper mapping the NIST Cyber Security Framework (CSF) to the AWS platform. These steps have set clear guidance about what is necessary to properly secure a cloud-native application, and both vendors and the open source community have built heavily around it. The hype of vendors offering silver bullets to cloud security is gone, replaced with mature offerings in well-defined lanes.
The emerging theme this year was undoubtedly maturity. The benefits of cloud-native design are considerable, and the risks are easier to manage than ever with a wide range of feature-filled open source projects, AWS services and third-party vendors. By far, the biggest remaining risk to cloud adoption is merely understanding how to navigate the complex landscape, selecting the correct combination of projects, services and vendors to complement each other, speed your adoption process, save cost and improve security. This is exactly why we remain focused on understanding both the cloud and its supporting ecosystem.