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New AWS cloud services leave developers wanting more

A look inside the AWS Summit 2014 in New York from the ground floor, where users revealed how they really feel about the new mobile releases and which products are still lacking.

NEW YORK -- Much talk at the AWS Summit last week revolved around new mobility tools, but IT pros in attendance here spoke of a need for better reporting tools, and a clearer mobile app development vision.

Three hot topics included the addition of logs to Amazon Web Services' CloudWatch, the release of a new messaging and collaboration platform that will compete with other cloud file-sharing services, and talk about whether these advancements are actually useful for developers.

AWS CloudWatch Logs miss the mark

Splunk, a company that provides log capability for AWS CloudWatch, may not be sunk quite yet. Tom Shawver, principal architect at Leadnomics, an online marketing company based in Philadelphia, feels there's a gap in Amazon's CloudWatch Logs that Splunk can fill.

"Ultimately, I would love to use this service to parse variables from the logs," Shawver said. "This would allow us to run queries over data, like how many sales we had in a day or the amount of money our users spend each month."

Shawver isn't the only one looking for more from AWS CloudWatch. The demand for ability to parse variables is frequently requested, and the company is looking into it, Shawver said. "Until then, we send everything to Splunk, and it lets us do business," he said.*

Others see this as an interesting space for Amazon to enter, and are interested in how incumbent vendors react.

"Splunk might have something to say about it," said Anatoly Fayngelerin, software engineer at YieldMo, a New York-based mobile advertising firm. "Amazon entering into that field is definitely something we're going to watch.”

Will AWS Zocalo deliver?

If AWS' new file-sharing and collaboration service Zocalo delivers; messaging will be more efficient, said Sangpo Dorje, an IT and Web developer who attended the Summit.

"I see so many companies where they're just clogging up their inboxes and mail servers sending attachments, which is a complete nightmare for the day-to-day," Dorje said. "If [Zocalo] eliminates that, it's great. And I see the convenience, 200 gigs for [$]5 per month is the same as [what] Google Apps offers for much less storage."

Other developers here want Amazon to add some application programming interfaces on top of Zocalo, so they can build apps and better use Zocalo's features.

"If they're successful," said one New York-based developer who requested anonymity, "that would be back to the true essence of what AWS is supposed to be."

Do AWS mobile advancements add value?

Amazon's mobile services look like advancements in cloud and, particularly, mobile development, but they may not be, said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corporation, a strategic consulting firm.

The mobile software development kit (SDK) looks like a continuation of Amazon's drive to add value to basic infrastructure as a service by linking the Kindle platform to these services, Nolle said.

Still, mobile app developers will keep their eyes on what this means for the future, and on how Amazon will keep up with app dev leaders like Google.

"I'm always interested in what Amazon is going to do," said one developer for a global Android app maker who requested anonymity. "I would have expected something from them in [mobile app development] because Google is the technical leader in that area."

But Nolle remains skeptical on Amazon's success here.

"It's not where the cloud is going, because it doesn't add enough value for users or enough profit for providers," Nolle said. "Amazon Web Services [is] designed to offer a service that lets a developer build an application for the cloud, not move an old one to the cloud.”

Executive site editor Michelle Boisvert contributed to this report 

*Updated at 4 p.m. on 7/16/14. 

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Of these three, which is the most important update from AWS?
I think it's definitely the new file-sharing and collaboration service. With so many organizations clogging all their space so quickly, a service like this is needed. 
The mobile back-end service. Mobile is where all the growth is, and the ability to simplify things for developers will be huge. And this got validated by Google recently buying Firebase.