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What We Learned at AWS re:invent 2018

Last week, 11 intrepid team members from Instaclustr traveled from the corners of the world to brave 140+ hours in Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent, Amazon’s flagship conference for AWS and one of the biggest cloud conferences in the world. Over the course of the five days we interacted spoke with over 2000 attendees, were interviewed by analysts and media, met AWS experts and potential partners, and caught up with customers small and large.

Beyond this flurry of activity, I found the broader atmosphere and attitudes of those at the conference particularly interesting this time around. Here’s my perspective on the general feeling gathered from attendees and sponsors of AWS re:invent this year:

AWS Touts Growth as Competitors Loom

The major keynote delivered by Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, devoted its first 20 minutes to AWS competitors. Beginning with a throwaway dig at Larry Ellison – and including several slides dedicated to comparing AWS revenue and growth performance with that of Microsoft – AWS both illustrated its dominant lead and gave the impression that it’s cautiously looking over its shoulder.

Going through the product offerings of AWS’ competitors, Andy stated that while they might “tick the box,” AWS has many more offerings within each product category. This is true enough: AWS generally has more options and more maturity across the board. However, this may have backfired into an advertisement for Microsoft and Google, as it showed that those guys also have offerings in most major product segments which are likely to be plenty good enough for most enterprises.

After taking digs at the competition (for probably too long, IMO), Andy got to the meat and potatoes: AWS product announcements (specific thoughts on each of those below). Somewhat ironically, Andy was not shy in bashing mainstream proprietary database vendors as mercenaries who use tactics designed to maximize vendor lock-in, while simultaneously outlining a technical direction and new AWS product releases in that space that are absolutely proprietary databases and no doubt intended to create lock-in with AWS as the vendor. While enterprises that are all-in AWS customers may have found these announcements exciting, it only bolstered my confidence that Instaclustr’s value proposition of delivering 100% open source solutions and freedom from lock-in is a powerful one.

AWS’ Product Changes

As expected, Amazon released a slew of products, product updates, and new features. Improvements to the security management and compliance of AWS services were a particular focus – especially in terms of self-service enablement. Amazon’s hard push in this direction was likely enough to cause any security compliance vendors built around AWS to grit their teeth.

I’ve summarized and provided commentary on the AWS product launches most relevant to Instaclustr from a competitive and broader ecosystem/trend perspective. A complete list of these releases set to the tune of Nations of the World from the hit 1990s cartoon Animaniacs can be found here: https://lastweekinaws.com/blog/reinvent-2018-releases.html. A more serious look is also available here: https://aws.amazon.com/new/reinvent/.

Amazon also announced their managed Kafka service, which is an awesome verification of the demand for this capability and one in which we deliver the top tier managed service for. Feel free to test out Amazons Managed Kafka Service, then take ours for a test drive.

Amazon also had some other interesting announcements that are interesting to the wider cloud computing community. I’ve listed the ones I found particularly interesting below:

Cloud ecosystem relevant announcements

Other Interesting updates

  • Storage – Amazon made a lot of S3/Glacier announcements, including smart/auto-tiering, Glacier deep archive, and new network filesystems.
  • Satellite – AWS now runs satellite ground stations. Plug in your FCC license and NORAD ID, and rent ground station time to your satellite in low earth (and higher) orbit.
  • RoboMaker – Build intelligent robotics applications including simulation, deployment, and integration with SageMaker and other ML products.
  • App Mesh – Service-Mesh-as-a-Service (implements an envoy proxy).
  • Marketplaces – Amazon introduced new marketplaces for containers, private marketplaces (blessed packages) and ML algorithms.
  • Blockchain – Amazon is entering the blockchain services space.


Interestingly, despite some amazing capabilities found in AWS as a cloud provider, many enterprises that have adopted or are looking to adopt AWS as a primary cloud provider are well-attuned to the real possibility of competing with Amazon and AWS themselves. We’re discovering that Instaclustr’s message of delivering the core benefits of 100% open source software, cloud-portability, and multi-cloud and hybrid-cloud deployments are resonating with enterprises – especially those concerned that their own cloud provider may emerge as a competitor sooner than later.

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