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These AWS features, partnerships dominated 2017 news

It's difficult for AWS customers to stay informed on everything the cloud provider offers. Get up to speed with these top AWS news stories from 2017.

Heavy lies the crown. And while Amazon has its healthy share of cloud customers and praise, it can't satisfy the whole kingdom.

Last year, a number of new AWS features emerged, including those for automation, AI and other emerging technologies, as the vendor sought to diversify its portfolio and distance itself from the cloud competition. Still, it seemed new meat-and-potatoes management features resonated most with enterprise customers. And the cloud provider even unveiled its first wave of hybrid cloud technology with a high-profile partner.

But not all headlines were in AWS' favor, as one of its storage services had a particularly rocky year -- even if it wasn't always the cloud provider's fault.

These five news stories captured the attention of SearchAWS readers last year. Take a look back at the most popular news stories of 2017.

1. S3 disruption wreaks havoc on users

AWS customers adopt some cloud services more readily than others. Simple Storage Service (S3), one of AWS' first offerings, appeals to many businesses for its reliable object storage capabilities. But that reliability took a very public hit early in the year.

S3 encountered a service disruption in February that affected much of the internet. While some quibbled over whether to call it an "outage," the impact was nonetheless noticeable for businesses, some of which saw load times dramatically increase during the four hours the disruption persisted. Frustration grew as the AWS Service Health Dashboard remained green, indicating no problem existed.

Businesses should implement redundancy policies to reduce the damage of service disruptions. That said, these contingencies come with a cost tradeoff, and some businesses aren't willing to pay the extra money for multiregion stability.

2. Enterprise demand pushes AWS toward hybrid technologies

As the public cloud isn't ideal for all enterprise workloads and data, demand for hybrid cloud technologies grew in 2017. And public and private cloud providers partnered up to cash in on that trend.

AWS struck a pair of deals over the last two years in response to customer demand for hybrid cloud. AWS' deal with VMware garnered quite a bit of attention, and another partnership with Red Hat enables enterprises to manage AWS resources via OpenShift. While these new AWS features and partnerships seem to reflect the vendor's growing acceptance of hybrid cloud, at least one skeptic wondered if AWS is simply playing the long game with customer conversion.

3. Per-second billing offers new level of pricing granularity

A big part of AWS' success has been its pay-as-you-go model, which quickly became the standard among public cloud providers. While its per-hour billing addressed many customer needs at the outset, the pace of public cloud development -- and even AWS' competition -- raced ahead of that initial pricing structure.

In October, AWS responded with per-second billing for Elastic Compute Cloud instances and Elastic Block Store volumes, with more services to follow. While not all customers need that degree of granularity, the move keeps AWS in stride with its competition in the ongoing public cloud pricing battle.

4. Amazon Connect provides call center service

Whether it's a service upgrade or a more elaborate foray into a new market, AWS features constantly expand.

Amazon Connect, a cloud-hosted call center service, pushed Amazon into the unified communications as a service (UCaaS) market in 2017. While the service will have to combat some stiff competition, its ultimate appeal resides in its connectivity to other AWS cloud services. That could give the cloud provider a leg up as it looks to entice new customers with AWS features, such as storage and analytics capabilities, unlike most other UCaaS providers.

5. VMware's Mark Lohmeyer talks partnership

Inititally, information on AWS' deal with VMware seemed to come at a trickle -- or not at all. That left a number of VMware and AWS customers anxious over what the partnership would entail, how much it would cost and whether it was feasible for their businesses.

Just weeks before the technology providers unveiled VMware Cloud on AWS, SearchAWS spoke with Mark Lohmeyer, vice president and general manager of VMware's cloud platform business unit. Lohmeyer provided some details on what the service would include, how the partnership came about and how much it would cost. For AWS customers evaluating their hybrid cloud options, Lohmeyer's insights in August provided a sneak preview before the service's late summer release.

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