Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Derek Weeks, Elizabeth White, Gopala Krishna Behara, Sridhar Chalasani, Tirumala Khandrika

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Machine Learning

Microservices Expo: Article

Amazon - The Real Web Services Company

Not only Amazon is the real Web Services company now, it is becoming an icon for the 21st century software tools company

I am biased writing this article because my company is a big user of Amazon Web Services. But please read on and see why I am so excited about what the largest online retailer is doing these days. Not only Amazon is the real Web Services company now, it is becoming an icon for the 21st century software tools company. Not Microsoft, not IBM not even Google, but Amazon has been quietly, and recently not so quietly, building the blocks of the next generation software platform.

At the core of the Amazon strategy are the Web Services. The Amazon team takes the concepts of search, storage, lookup and management the data and turns them into pay-per-fetch and pay-per-space web services. This is a brilliant strategy and Amazon is certainly a visionary company. But what impresses me the most as an engineer is their ability to take very complex problems, solve them and then shrink wrap their solutions with a simple and elegant API. 

At the core of the Amazon strategy are the Web Services. The Amazon team takes the concepts of search, storage, lookup and management the data and turns them into pay-per-fetch and pay-per-space web services. This is a brilliant strategy and Amazon is certainly a visionary company. But what impresses me the most as an engineer is their ability to take very complex problems, solve them and then shrink wrap their solutions with a simple and elegant API. 

At the core of the Amazon strategy are the Web Services. The Amazon team takes the concepts of search, storage, lookup and management the data and turns them into pay-per-fetch and pay-per-space web services. This is a brilliant strategy and Amazon is certainly a visionary company. But what impresses me the most as an engineer is their ability to take very complex problems, solve them and then shrink wrap their solutions with a simple and elegant API. 

The current line up
One look at the stack above is enough to realize that Amazon is very serious about becoming a software company and monetizing both their expertise and vast amount of information that they accumulate in the last decade. But with the second look you will realize that they are doing it in a very systematic way. They take an area like messaging, search or storage and ask: What does it take to virtualize it in a way that entire world can consume? Then they build one or more services that can  collectively or individually address the problem.

The Amazon teams is very conscious about making the services minimalistic, fine-grained and interoperable. And this works out great from both technical and business perspective. Because each service is decoupled, it can be build and maintained by different teams and can play well with other services as just a building block. Its great from the business perspective too, because the pricing model around bandwidth and disk space leads to separation of services in order to maximize the revenue.

Eat your own dog food
Perhaps the most admirable thing about the Amazon efforts is that they are productizing their own infrastructure. It may not be widely known, but Amazon.com itself runs on all these services. The blocks that comprise the biggest store on Earth are servicing each other! For example, the site relies on eCommerce service and the Simple Storage Service.

The lack of the real customer feedback is a notorious problem in software engineering. The gap between the what software engineer thinks is useful and what the real customers want is a lot of times just hard to bridge. And how do you solve this problem for something like Amazon Web Services? Amazon's answer - turn ½ of the company to be the customers of the other half. This 'eat your own dog motto' forces the Web Services strategy on the success path. Failure is just simply not an option, since it is going to undermine the operations of the main business.

The eCommerce solutions
The eCommerce layer was the first layer that Amazon build. Here we see a pure information play, where the web giant is exposing a huge amount of information for people to develop a wide range of services. Except for the eCommerce service itself other services in this layer are not free. But eCommerce service is a good freebie to Amazon since in the end of the day it drives all the traffic back to the site.

There are quite a few applications using this service now. Success stories mentioned on Amazon web site include Inside C ,  Action Engine and Associate-O-Matic. The Web 2.0 community also dipped into this service. One of the more interesting examples is TheRightCart, which uses the service to fuel web-wide social shopping. For geeks, there is  Amazon CLI, which provides command line interface to the entire Amazon store. At adaptiveblue, we also use the eCommerce API to dynamically lookup information when user highlights a title of the object on a page.

A common theme that runs among all these solutions is that they ultimately drive the traffic back to Amazon, making money for Amazon, for the companies and also enabling better online experience for the end users.

Messaging and Storage Solutions
As the web turns into an operating system we see the emergence of the infrastructural elements analogous to what we have seen in the real operating systems and middleware. I have previously written an article in this magazine about the groundbreaking Amazon Simple Storage Service. This service is in essence a virtual hashtable for storing massive amounts of information based on key-value schema. With this service, Amazon opens up years of expertise in large-scale data management and enables new breed of applications – smart, thick client solutions that do not need to worry about storage.

And with the Simple Queue Service Amazon ventures into the middleware territory. This service enables developers to post and read messages from queues, facilitating simple communication mechanism between applications. The service is again, another example of Amazon strategy to  productize a piece of their own infrastructure as a Web Service. There are no success stories on the site at this time, because people are probably still a bit scared and skeptical. But it is very likely that this very service is used a lot internally within Amazon. And I bet as time goes and the paradigm shift takes place, we will see more and more users.

Search Solutions
With Google being a distant front runner in the search space other web giants are racing to catch up. Amazon's answer? A vertical search engine platform. Again another clever move that has not been acknowledged widely.

The vertical search engines promise to dethrone Google be delivering a better quality results. Amazon's approach – combat Google by making it simple to build the vertical search applications. The two examples: Camera Image search is a digital camera search engine and Zip File search,just scratch the tip of the iceberg of what is possible with this innovative service.

Conclusion
We are witnessing an amazing play in Web Services space. Amazon is becoming a software company by productizing their own infrastructure. They are carefully mapping out the architecture, but also moving very rapidly, recognizing that competition will be coming soon. In my option they now have a pretty good head start and it will be difficult for other to catch up. So watch out Google!

Even if you can not use the Amazon web services in your business today, you should take time to take a look at this innovation. The Amazon services give us a glimpse of what software will become. It is worth while to think about it, to understand the building blocks and simply to learn.

More Stories By Alex Iskold

Alex Iskold is the Founder and CEO of adaptiveblue (http://www.adaptiveblue.com), where he is developing browser personalization technology. His previous startup, Information Laboratory, created innovative software analysis and visualization tool called Small Worlds. After Information Laboratory was acquired by IBM, Alex worked as the architect of IBM Rational Software Analysis tools. Before starting adaptiveblue, Alex was the Chief Architect at DataSynapse, where he developed GridServer and FabricServer virtualization platforms. He holds M.S. in Computer Science from New York University, where he taught an award-winning software engineering class for undergraduate students. He can be reached at [email protected]

Comments (2) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Most Recent Comments
Web 2.0 News Desk 08/17/06 03:48:02 PM EDT

I am biased writing this article because my company is a big user of Amazon Web Services. But please read on and see why I am so excited about what the largest online retailer is doing these days. Not only Amazon is the real Web Services company now, it is becoming an icon for the 21st century software tools company. Not Microsoft, not IBM not even Google, but Amazon has been quietly, and recently not so quietly, building the blocks of the next generation software platform.

Web 2.0 News Desk 08/17/06 03:34:34 PM EDT

I am biased writing this article because my company is a big user of Amazon Web Services. But please read on and see why I am so excited about what the largest online retailer is doing these days. Not only Amazon is the real Web Services company now, it is becoming an icon for the 21st century software tools company. Not Microsoft, not IBM not even Google, but Amazon has been quietly, and recently not so quietly, building the blocks of the next generation software platform.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task...
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to clos...
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
The notion of improving operational efficiency is conspicuously absent from the healthcare debate - neither Obamacare nor the newly proposed GOP plan discusses the impact that a step-function improvement in efficiency could have on access to healthcare (through more capacity), quality of healthcare services (through reduced wait times for patients) or cost (through better utilization of scarce, expensive assets).
Our work, both with clients and with tools, has lead us to wonder how it is that organizations are handling compliance issues in the cloud. The big cloud vendors offer compliance for their infrastructure, but the shared responsibility model requires that you take certain steps to meet compliance requirements. Which lead us to start poking around a little more. We wanted to get a picture of what was available, and how it was being used. There is a lot of fluidity in this space, as in all things c...
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
Some journey to cloud on a mission, others, a deadline. Change management is useful when migrating to public, private or hybrid cloud environments in either case. For most, stakeholder engagement peaks during the planning and post migration phases of a project. Legacy engagements are fairly direct: projects follow a linear progression of activities (the “waterfall” approach) – change managers and application coders work from the same functional and technical requirements. Enablement and develo...
Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
Gaining visibility in today’s sprawling cloud infrastructure is complex and laborious, involving drilling down into tools offered by various cloud services providers. Enterprise IT organizations need smarter and effective tools at their disposal in order to address this pertinent problem. Gaining a 360 - degree view of the cloud costs requires collection and analysis of the cost data across all cloud infrastructures used inside an enterprise.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
For DevOps teams, the concepts behind service-oriented architecture (SOA) are nothing new. A style of software design initially made popular in the 1990s, SOA was an alternative to a monolithic application; essentially a collection of coarse-grained components that communicated with each other. Communication would involve either simple data passing or two or more services coordinating some activity. SOA served as a valid approach to solving many architectural problems faced by businesses, as app...
Many IT organizations have come to learn that leveraging cloud infrastructure is not just unavoidable, it’s one of the most effective paths for IT organizations to become more responsive to business needs. Yet with the cloud comes new challenges, including minimizing downtime, decreasing the cost of operations, and preventing employee burnout to name a few. As companies migrate their processes and procedures to their new reality of a cloud-based infrastructure, an incident management solution...
Cloud Governance means many things to many people. Heck, just the word cloud means different things depending on who you are talking to. While definitions can vary, controlling access to cloud resources is invariably a central piece of any governance program. Enterprise cloud computing has transformed IT. Cloud computing decreases time-to-market, improves agility by allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing market demands, and, ultimately, drives down costs.
Recent survey done across top 500 fortune companies shows almost 70% of the CIO have either heard about IAC from their infrastructure head or they are on their way to implement IAC. Yet if you look under the hood while some level of automation has been done, most of the infrastructure is still managed in much tradition/legacy way. So, what is Infrastructure as Code? how do you determine if your IT infrastructure is truly automated?