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AWS' market share growth depends on enterprise focus

While AWS remains the clear leader in the public IaaS market, the vendor's future success depends on how it addresses the more foundational needs of its enterprise customers.

AWS created the public IaaS market and continues to dominate it -- similar to the advantage IBM held in enterprise IT back in its early days. Now, AWS' market share continues to surpass those of its rivals and has risen as high as 60%, depending on which analyst reports you read.

But what's unique about AWS is that it still moves at the speed of a smaller company. It has built and deployed over 3,000 services and features and continues to churn out more each week, such as connectors for security systems and strategic features, like improved object storage and databases.

This speed and innovation set the bar for the public cloud computing industry. Some competitors even left the IaaS market because they couldn't hope to penetrate AWS' market share. Moreover, an entire ecosystem has grown around AWS, including consulting services and third-party technology.

While AWS' growth continues, some competitors, such as Microsoft and Alibaba, have accelerated their own market penetration. Against these growing threats, here's how Amazon can maintain -- or even extend -- AWS' market share.

Make a lasting enterprise commitment

First, AWS must focus on cloud integration and management features. While there's a race among IaaS providers to offer new services for machine learning and serverless computing, enterprises have more foundational needs.

AWS should strive to provide tools that reduce management complexity and simplify integration between enterprises' own data centers and the public cloud, as well as improve service-level and data-level connections. Enterprises also want automation to further abstract this management complexity from their operations teams, and AWS could play a big role here.

In this case, the real value for AWS would be its customers' deep dependence on its technology. If AWS owns both the public cloud platform and the tools that enable it to work well with on-premises systems or even other clouds, the provider will become further embedded in the enterprise.

Make security smarter

A sharper focus on IT security could also extend AWS' market share. The vendor's Identity and Access Management systems are the best in the business, but there are ways to be more innovative and creative beyond its current set of features.

For example, AWS could use machine learning to enable its security tools to become smarter over time, as they deal with specific situations. A system might, for instance, determine that certain distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks originate from a specific country and then use that context to closely monitor connections in that area moving forward.

Two services already indicate that AWS will push further into this space. Amazon Macie uses machine learning to augment cloud security services in more proactive ways, while AWS Shield can spot -- and fight off -- DDoS attacks automatically.

With this approach, you not only automate security ops, but also enable your security system to automate itself. And the huge amount of experiential knowledge your system gains means it can defend your environment better than your IT team could.

Other public cloud differentiators

Deeper container governance, as well as serverless technology that automatically binds to more databases based on application needs, could also be a boon to AWS' market share. For example, Amazon Aurora, a MySQL- and PostgreSQL-compatible database, enables scale-as-needed serverless capabilities for that particular type of database -- think relational database meets AWS Lambda.

Additionally, ops teams would greatly benefit from services that monitor and manage applications and include self-healing capabilities.

This was last published in June 2018

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