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Cloud computing users want answers during AWS re:Invent

With AWS re:Invent on the horizon, IT pros are hoping the cloud giant can answer pressing questions on its performance and API debates.

Cloud experts gearing up for the second annual AWS re:Invent conference are brimming with questions for Amazon.

With its prominence in the cloud market, it's clear IT pros are content with Amazon Web Services (AWS), but as the market matures and more providers enter the space, users and experts see elements Amazon should address.

For starters, the negative performance review it received from testing house Cloud Spectator. 

Cloud Spectator's research was commissioned by cloud provider Virtustream, which took a lead from ProfitBricks earlier this year by claiming AWS' pricing actually resulted in a high margin of profits and attempted to switch the conversation to one on performance. 

The research found AWS to be at the bottom of the pile in terms of cloud provider performance, along with Rackspace, Terremark and other major vendors. Because Virtustream, an AWS competitor, backed the report, results should be taken with a grain of salt; however, the performance claims still merit discussion, as they have caused many cloud pros to raise their eyebrows. 

"As AWS is becoming more of a powerhouse, enterprises are looking to AWS to solve some pretty big problems," said David Linthicum, senior vice president of Boston-based Cloud Technology Partners. "The question is, and [it] should be addressed at the conference:  Is AWS up to the task?"

"For the most part, they are," Linthicum added. "However, as they expand their business, there [are] bound to be growing pains."

I think that what [Amazon] provide[s] is excellent, but I worry about them sort of becoming the 'borg'

Joe Emison, CTO and founder of BuildFax and AWS user

While AWS has been the de facto leader in the cloud market for several years now, some cloud experts wonder if its seeming monopoly could cause problems in the industry as a whole. With several headline-making outages, Amazon must address its resilience and how to best meet disasters.

"I worry about how many businesses run entirely on Amazon's U.S. East [data centers], and if that collection of data centers went down, what percentage of the Internet would be unusable?" said Joe Emison, an AWS user and chief technology officer and founder of Asheville, N.C.-based BuildFax.

"I think that what they provide is excellent, but I worry about them sort of becoming the 'borg,'" he added.

Emison also addressed a problem with Amazon's "community friendliness."

"There are just a lot of things they could do that would be nice that they're not doing," Emison said, pointing to the legal battles surrounding the use of Amazon's application program interface (API).

They could say they won't sue anyone who uses the API, Emison said, then this whole API debate with OpenStack would go away as the Amazon API becomes sort of this de facto standard. It would allow more portability among clouds.

The AWS re:Invent cloud conference is open to developers, users and execs in the Amazon cloud community. Several sessions in the top 10 feature discussions on high availability -- including "High availability application architectures in Amazon VPC" and "How Netflix Leverages Multiple Regions to Increase Availability" -- pointing to a concern in this space.

Other popular topics include big data analytics and cloud deployment tactics.

"I'm looking forward to the talks on big data and high-performance computing," said Dan Sullivan, senior systems architect at Blacksburg, Va.-based Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and a cloud market analyst. "I also think Amazon should cover resource management and deployment topics, like OpsWorks and CloudFormation."

Caitlin White is site editor for SearchCloudComputing. Contact her at

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