Amazon Web Services grudgingly accepts hybrid cloud

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Last year at the inaugural Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference, Amazon derided “old-guard” technology companies that were pushing private clouds. They were doing so, said Andy Jassy, senior vice president of AWS, because public clouds were so disruptive to their traditional high-margin businesses.

This year, Jassy again mocked the old-guard for pushing private clouds, explaining just what you lose by going private – elasticity and the elimination of a high fixed cost. But he also gave an inch.

Andy Jassy, senior vice president of AWS

Image credit: Flickr/djevents

“We understand that enterprises have a number of on premise data centers that they aren’t ready to retire yet,” he said. “What they really want is the ability to use those on premise data centers easily with AWS. That’s what we’re spending considerable resources enabling.”

AWS capabilities like identity federation help this vision, he said.

Still, Jassy noted that AWS has a very different vision of the future than the traditional software companies. “They believe the enterprise will want to run most of their workloads on premise with the ability to surge to the cloud. We believe very few enterprises will own data centers and those that do will have a much smaller footprint than today,” he said.

He’s not quite on target with what analysts expect. Gartner recently said that by the end of 2017, it expects that half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments. It said that current actual deployments of hybrid clouds are low, but aspirations are high.

AWS showcased a couple of customers that fit into its vision, including Dow Jones. It currently has 40 data centers across four continents. “The time and money and people we need to spend operating these distracts us from our core mission,” said Stephen Orban, global CIO and global head of technology for Dow Jones.

He said Dow Jones' parent company, News Corp., has set a goal of migrating 75 percent of its infrastructure from internal facilities to AWS, leaving the company with just six data centers. The company expects to move 3,000 apps to AWS in some fashion, which could include just for bursting. All told, it expects to save $100 million in infrastructure costs, once its transition is complete, he said.

Amazon also highlighted Suncorp, the banking and insurance company. It has only just begun to embrace the public cloud but has decided to go all in – rather than waste time assessing which functions couldn’t be moved to the cloud, it decided to move everything, overcoming any obstacles that get in the way, said Jeff Smith, CEO of business services at Suncorp.

It only started the process in July and by Oct. 30 had gone live with revenue generating online apps as well as BI and data streaming apps, he said.

Keep in mind that AWS hasn’t totally shunned private clouds. Its CIA cloud will be a private cloud, although AWS works hard to try to differentiate it. In its official statement about its CIA cloud, AWS suggests that since it will manage the CIA cloud, it’s not technically a private cloud. Make of that what you will.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring and on Google+. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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