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Why re:Invent 2021 spotlighted existing AWS products

Many of AWS' re:Invent announcements highlighted enhancements to existing products, rather than new services. Here's why the cloud provider took that route.

AWS' annual reveal of product launches and updates is always an event to look forward to. The cloud provider's re:Invent conference showcases how cloud platforms can overcome the roadblocks presented by legacy IT infrastructure and siloed thinking. It also provides people with confirmation that they are not alone in their cloud journey, no matter where they might be.

You need to be confident that your cloud journey and the decisions that you make are right for your company and its goals. Navigating the cloud is not just a matter of accepting and executing what is in front of you. It requires people to have faith in the products and services that are presented, as well as the platform that your digital workloads will run on. I describe this as "jumping the chasm."

A shift to incremental progress

AWS re:Invent 2021 was less about wide-ranging transformation and more about the incremental improvements to the services that AWS currently offers. In fact, there was a consensus that many of the announcements and updates steered clear of actual innovation and instead highlighted enhancements to existing products.

And while an incremental approach can seem cautious to the casual observer, it can be argued that consolidating services by making required adjustments is essential to build confidence in cloud computing. That is not a bad thing.

In his keynote, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky said that every industry has been touched by the cloud. Even so, Selipsky stressed that we are still in the early stages of cloud migration -- only 5% to 15% of companies have actually moved wholesale to the cloud.

While AWS re:Invent wasn't a string of blockbuster announcements, there were some intriguing moments, such as:

Still, the overarching theme was innovation through integration.

This incremental approach is actually part of AWS' DNA. Anyone who regularly checks the AWS news blog will know that there are frequent updates to established services. From a customer standpoint, constant tweaking and tinkering by AWS' engineers is not only expected but necessary -- even more so when you factor in the differing levels of cloud maturity that companies have.

The everywhere cloud

One concept that permeated through the conference was that cloud didn't need to be centralized. Amazon CTO Werner Vogels said as much in his keynote when he referred to Amazon's plans for "the everywhere cloud" and how AWS Outposts, Local Zone and Wavelength would usher in the era of a distributed cloud. While all three are related, the cloud architecture that underpins these products takes core tech and brings it closer to the customer.

It is this sort of incremental change -- how AWS integrates into workload processes -- that will make a difference to companies that are still on the fence about cloud. Adoption rates are below 20%, and we must take that into account for those people who are still wary of chasm jumping.

Containers are going to be the de facto means of deployment in the not-so-distant future.

Distributed cloud makes the decision easier. If the cloud is coming nearer to where you are -- through a managed rack of on-premises servers such as with AWS Outposts -- as opposed to you moving workloads to an AWS facility, then it makes cloud adoption more attractive.

Taking that into account, it seems clear that containers are going to be the de facto means of deployment in the not-so-distant future, especially as cloud-native mindsets become more prevalent. That means that, by association, there will be a need to ensure that cloud is done right from day one. The companies that understand that digital or cloud maturity does not happen overnight will be the ones that see a return on investment.

And let us not forget that there is still a degree of apprehension in some business sectors about cloud, so creating a bridge to what is possible allows decision-makers to walk before they run.

From a product launch or services standpoint, I wanted AWS to pull out a series of showstoppers, but I understand why it saw incremental change as the better option. Cloud will become pervasive, not just popular, so it never hurts to take stock of where we are on the overall cloud journey now and what services or offerings will have the most impact on future business optimization strategies.

AWS re:Invent 2021 was determined to showcase the enhancements that will lead to greater cloud adoption. This strategy will likely persuade more companies that cloud is not only worth the risk, but can be a pivotal part of their overall digital transformation.

Deven Samant is global head of enterprise and cloud center of excellence at Infostretch, a Silicon Valley digital engineering professional services firm.

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