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Amazon – The World’s Bookshop and IT Supplier?

How did a online bookseller become potentially the most important IT Supplier in the world?

Were their employees not simply selling books but also devouring them to solve their own internal problems? And without Amazon beginning to scare the beejesus out of the traditional IT suppliers, would we have cloud?  

People talk about UCS being Cisco’s reaction to HP stepping over the line in the sand. And this may be true! But it is Amazon who people should be scared about; a company which understands global markets, logistics on a massive scale, flexibility and agility. These are all core to a company which has become synomymous with Online Retail. An IT infrastructure which has proved itself to scale very quickly and allows small start-ups run Enterprise class infrastructure without huge capital outlay.

With the exception of the EC2 cloud, Amazon are offering interesting and thought provoking services which could change the way that applications are developed. But I’m not especially interested in these as an infrastructure bod in the here and now.

The EC2 cloud is more interesting, not because it is especially exciting or innovative; it’s not really but it is more applicable to the here and now. And I had initially dismissed it as just a mere so-what hosting exercise and to a limited extent it is but it might well turn out to be as important as VMWare and it is this which I suspect is beginning to frighten people.

Lets for example, take an Enterprise which is running all of its core systems on Solaris systems; with the current travails of Sun, merger rumours and a general push to reduce costs, a decision might be made to replatform the core applications to run on Linux.

But do I really want to install a large Linux infrastructure initially? That’ll take time and more importantly money; I might not have enough space in my data-centre, I might not yet have decided on my corporate Linux infrastructure standards. As the head of development, I probably don’t want to wait for my Infrastructure teams to get their acts together; I want something *now*  and I want it quickly.

Step-up the Amazon EC2 cloud;  quickly and easily, without jumping through the hoops that  the Infrastructure teams want me to jump through, probably without a huge amount  of IT process such as change management, I can have a scalable and pretty robust Linux infrastructure.

Yes, I could have done it with other companies but Amazon is the company which appears to have the vision and strategy to take this forward. External clouds buy me the one thing that I cannot really buy, time.

So I start hosting my development environments in the Cloud and because my internal IT infrastructure teams are too slow, I put them in the external Cloud. Sure for the time being, I’ll probably keep my production workloads in-house but in the same way that production work-loads started to move  to VMware, how long before I’m experimenting with production workloads?

And that is without Amazon’s more interesting services which could really change things. It makes you wonder about some of the other non-traditional IT companies, what have they got hidden away? There’s some interesting stuff been done by some of the games companies for instance which may well have wider application.

Clouds are fuzzy things and boundaries will become blurred. May we live in interesting times.

About the author

Martin Glassborow

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