LAS VEGAS – Amazon Web Services floated a raft of new services and updates this week, but the more services it adds, the more IT pros look for a real competitor to add balance to the market.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) added a new data streaming service called Amazon Kinesis; support for PostgreSQL databases in its Relational Database Service (RDS); snapshot capabilities for its RedShift data warehouse; and two new groups of instances built for high performance computing.
At this point, AWS continues to add to its catalog of cloud services over and above simple Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and attendees at the re:Invent conference here this week were enthused about a number of them. But they’re also aware of potential vendor lock-in down the road as the gap between AWS and competitors grows.
There are products on the market which allow for virtual machines (VMs) to be moved between IaaS services, but advanced offerings like RDS would be much more challenging to move a full workload to another platform.
“It’s definitely a big concern for us,” said Laurent Castillo, technology and innovation research and development team manager for a data security company based in the Southwest. As a result, Castillo said his company is looking for alternatives at the Platform as a Service (PaaS) layer of the cloud infrastructure stack rather than AWS’s Elastic Beanstalk service.
Still, vendor lock-in isn’t an overriding concern for most AWS customers yet, said James Staten, analyst with Forrester Research Inc. based in Cambridge, Mass. But eventually customers will find themselves at a crossroads, Staten said.
“They’ll start worrying about it five years in as usage and bills increase,” Staten said. “Right now, there’s no place customers would move anyway, so it feels less like lock-in.”
Amazon Kinesis service, RDS updates turn heads
Attendees were keenly interested in Amazon’s new Kinesis service, which processes streaming data for application developers. Kinesis can store and process terabytes of data an hour from hundreds of thousands of sources such as web site click-streams, marketing and financial transactions, social media feeds, logs and metering data.
“Kinesis is something we’ll certainly look closely at,” said the director of infrastructure operations at a large advertising agency based in the Northeast. “Any tools that make streaming data easier will be useful as we build out our data warehouse.”
Staten said Kinesis will be a popular feature among his firm’s clients as well.
“Almost everyone we talk to is doing some sort of stream analysis,” he said. “It will be useful for companies like Autodesk, which is looking to bring CAD apps and 3D rendering tools over to the cloud.”
Amazon also introduced a long-awaited feature this week with support for PostgreSQL databases on RDS. News of this feature drew applause from the audience at a keynote presentation , the only announcement to garner such an immediate reaction.
Another brush-up, for the RedShift data warehouse service, adds cross-region replication for the database service with a feature called Cross-Region Read Replicas, which Staten said also resolves a longtime customer wish list item.
“It’s something customers were doing on their own that they don’t have to do anymore,” he said.
The company also launched Amazon WorkSpaces, a desktop as a service platform, earlier this week.
New AWS instance types for high-performance computing
Also unveiled here were two new groups of instances that beef up performance on Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
The C3 line of instances represents greater CPU performance over the existing C1 and C2 instance types, AWS officials said. The biggest of the bunch, the c3.8xlarge, has 32 vCPUs, 60 GB of RAM, and two 320 GB solid-state drives (SSDs) for $2.40 per hour.
The I2 line of instances offers higher I/O per second (IOPS) performance than previous generations. The i2.8xlarge has 32 vCPUs, 244 GB of memory and eight 720 GB SSDs. Amazon claims the i2.8xlarge will be able to perform 350,000 random read IOPS and 320,000 random write IOPS, but a launch date and pricing for these instances has not yet been specified.