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The egalitarianism of the cloud

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 8, 2013
CIOs in Asia must be better prepared to compete globally and cloud computing is here to help them in this battle, says Werner Vogels, the CTO of AWS, in this exclusive interview.

Vogels thinks it is too good a competition to be in. "The companies who would be competing with us are addicted to high margins," he said. "We operate it (AWS) as a high volume low margins business. This brings tremendous benefits to our customers. It makes it much harder for other companies to deliver as well."

The Future of the Cloud

I wanted Vogels to now wear the hat of a seer and gaze into the crystal ball for a while. How does he see the cloud journey evolve further? "It is hard to predict," he said frankly. "In general, I think customers (companies) will be buying less and less hardware over time. Data centres will remain but there will be less of them. Large companies will still own data centres but they will be smaller in number over time."

"If you look at the few application areas, what drives cloud is Big Data," he said. "There is a new style of data analytics happening. Traditional business analytics was about answering standard business questions. Given the competition today, businesses need to have much better insight into their customers. What do they like? How are they using our products? Why they are doing this, why they are doing that? Much more customer insight is what many companies are thirsty for. But to be able to get that insight, you need to collect as much data as you can. So there is a close relationship between Big Data and cloud."

"The second thing, on the consumer side, that drives cloud is the mobile. In the past, content and data would live on the device, it does not live on it anymore. My content, photos, document live in the cloud. That will drive a lot of applications that will do wonderful things for the customer. This will be independent of the device that the customers are using."

So, according to Vogels, both mobile and big data are driving the cloud today. The trend will continue. But what about the enterprises? "Enterprises are realising that most of their workers are mobile as well. They need mobile access to data analytics while they are on the road; that is really important. I need to know which of my prospects I can reach within five minutes? All of that stitching behind your scenes-your CMS, your CRM tool, what is the traffic condition-these kind of things are driving the cloud."

Too many clouds?

When we talk about cloud, there are many different types of cloud that come to our attention: public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and government cloud. Will it all collapse into one big all-encompassing cloud?  "I don't think private cloud is cloud," said Vogels. "I think what we see is that these old style companies that really would like to give their customers all the benefits of cloud computing with a stack of computers. We have always defined cloud computing by its benefits. If you talk to most of our enterprise customers they will tell you that they came on board because they had a cost saving picture in mind. Each of them will tell you that agility is the real reason why they are in the cloud. If you talk to a company like Shell, they will tell you that the reason they are moving business critical ERP systems on to the cloud is because it helps them to move much faster than they could before. Samsung, Netflix, or whether it is News International, New York Times, The Washington Post, The Telegraph in UK, any segment, whether it is pharma, oil or media, each and everyone is using the cloud to drive their business forward. And each of them is also using uniformly the public cloud to meet their needs."

 

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