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After another year as the dominant public cloud vendor, AWS turns its attention to 2018 amid a barrage of service releases. At re:Invent in November, Amazon unveiled over 30 services and features in its portfolio, many of which embraced emerging technologies to keep current users happy and attract ones as well.
But what exactly is in store for the future of AWS? Recent trends suggest the cloud provider will focus on edge computing, the internet of things (IoT) and partner integration in 2018. Here's what SearchAWS experts expect to see from AWS this year.
At re:Invent, AWS more user-specific tools. AWS' approach to virtual and augmented reality was pretty interesting, and I'm guessing we'll see a bit more of that as the technologies progress.
The Cloud9 IDE was another improvement, and I expect to see better integration in the future with other Amazon services. AWS was pretty darn close to adding a serverless form of Docker with its AWS Fargate service, and I think it'll eventually have a concept in which Lambda supports Docker. I've frequently seen on Twitter the concept that serverless is only as good as its event triggers, so hopefully, AWS will add Simple Queue Service as a native event source, instead of the current workarounds developers use to get SQS to work with Lambda. But I think it's more likely that we'll see third-party integrations for event sources and maybe something that lets us trigger based on social media events.
The GraphDB (Amazon Neptune) and GraphQL (AWS AppSync) releases also seem pretty interesting. I'm guessing Amazon will eventually release some more APIs for the browser around those two and possibly a full-fledged framework that supports web and mobile.
Overall, I expect that AWS' future, at least in 2018, will focus on improvements to existing tools and the recently launched ones, instead of completely services.
I expect AWS will double down on edge computing. This includes an expansion of AWS Greengrass capabilities and use cases that go beyond traditional IoT applications. One big component of this will be the emergence of a Greengrass app marketplace that companies can deploy at the edge to cache and process data.
This Greengrass app marketplace would also offer the possibility of a class of on-premises servers that act as intermediaries between local apps and the cloud. These servers would reduce application latency and take advantage of AWS' security and identity management infrastructure.
Additionally, cloud apps that mediate data synchronization between edge apps and Amazon services will complement these Greengrass enhancements.
I expect the future of AWS to involve more heated competition with Microsoft Azure.
Microsoft started slow, but it has strategically positioned itself for ease of use and high service value. For example, Azure App Service Isolated provides an idiot-proof environment for secure and scalable hosting. Microsoft's efforts appear to be working, and the company continues to benefit from its long relationship with and understanding of the traditional IT stack. Expect AWS to respond aggressively with competitive offerings and pricing.
AWS is still a leader in the cloud infrastructure-as-a-service world, but it will see even more market pressure from Microsoft and newcomer Alibaba. The Chinese e-commerce company's success will be limited to outside of the U.S., but AWS will see price pressure in 2018 unlike ever before.
The future of AWS will focus up the stack, including additional database services, container services, machine learning and deep learning. This strategy takes the focus away from its core infrastructure offerings but will ultimately lead to AWS selling more infrastructure; you can't run advanced cloud services without high amounts of storage and compute.
Compliance and security will be at the forefront in 2018, as AWS offerings focus on regulatory requirements and data protection. These compliance and governance services will be prebuilt and available on demand to save companies time and minimize risk. I also expect a new line of security services that will enhance its existing identity access management systems.
AWS is both intensely innovative and brutally competitive. Its customer-centric focus means new products and services often come in reaction to user requests and criticisms. AWS can deliver a few surprises, but many, if not most, of its new services are enhancements of existing offerings. These traits make each re:Invent a good roadmap for the future of AWS in 2018 and beyond.
Here are a few areas AWS will likely pursue this year:
- AI and machine learning: The three major public cloud providers are in an arms race for AI superiority, with each quickly introducing new services and applications, such as speech recognition and accelerated runtime platforms, like GPU instances. Expect this to continue, but with an AWS emphasis on simplifying the development of custom applications with its AI services. SageMaker is a good step, but I expect to see packaged services, such as Amazon Machine Learning, for popular development frameworks, like Caffe, MXNet and TensorFlow.
- IoT device, data management and back-end applications: AWS or enhanced eight IoT services at re:Invent, and I expect an even greater number of improvements in 2018, as the cloud becomes the preferred back end for IoT applications and data. Look for additional work to improve support for native AWS offerings on embedded devices to strengthen its position on the network edge via partnerships with device manufacturers. These moves could come via customized versions of Greengrass to different platforms and use cases.
Kurt MarkoSearchAWS contributor
- Lightweight app infrastructure, including containers and serverless: AWS pioneered serverless cloud with Lambda, but Google and Azure have bypassed it in key areas. I expect the future of AWS to involve a publish/subscribe bus for event management, similar to Azure Event Grid. AWS could also enhance its Simple Workflow Service to make it more of a low/no-code environment for application integration, similar to Azure Logic App Service. Also, look for AWS to follow through with plans that enable Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes to launch containers on Fargate and possibly simplify migration in the other direction.
- Enterprise integration and migration: AWS Server Migration Service, which boosted VMware Cloud on AWS, was a big deal at re:Invent in 2016. While VMware's service supports NSX virtual networks on AWS infrastructure, that support should extend to easy use of NSX policies on native Amazon Virtual Private Clouds outside VMware Software Defined Data Center. VMware's NSX Cloud provides such network control via a third-party SaaS, but it would be nice to see an integrated offering via the AWS Marketplace that uses the native management console. I also expect the VMware partnership to expand to Pivotal with a service similar to Pivotal Container Service that tightly integrates on-premises and Cloud Foundry environments.
Also, lost in the current bitcoin mania is the fact that blockchain has become a mainstream enterprise technology. AWS has been noticeably silent, as it offers only perfunctory support for partner services via Amazon Machine Images. Look for AWS to a managed blockchain service similar to IBM Blockchain Platform or Ethereum Blockchain as a Service on Azure.
I also expect AWS to respond to price pressure from competitors and maintain a steady pace of service updates and geographic expansion.