Cloud Data Centre
Image from

On August 24 I attended the training event, called AWSome Day, that was hosted by Amazon Web Services in Toronto. I would estimate at least 400 people were there, which is a clear sign of local interest in “the cloud.” The event was very well organized and the presenter was excellent, which made it easier to pay attention and absorb all the technical contents.

The major topics covered during the day included: background history, storage services, compute services, AWS marketplace, an overview of networking, IAM and security, database, auto-scaling and CloudWatch.


There are more than 70 services offered by AWS, with more than 700 new features launched in 2015. There are more than one million customers using AWS including large enterprises, startup companies and public sector organizations.

AWS is a large operation, after all how many companies have more than a million direct customers? What I want to know is, how many organizational processes are designed to provide an amazing user experience at this scale? Even Sean, the presenter, said it takes extraordinary effort to keep up with all the announcements.

Pity the poor consultant who needs to keep up with all the announcements of all the gorillas (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM Cloud), much less use them in solutions. Perhaps this will lead to even more specialization, but how do you know what you don’t know?

AWS launched its first service in 2006, so it is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This is somewhat analogous to IBM’s SNA in 1984 (SNA was first announced in 1974) or Cisco routers in 2000 (ten years after going public in 1990).

Technology is clearly advancing faster than ever before.

Six advantages for using cloud services were identified:

  • Trade capital expense for variable expense;
  • Achieve massive economies of scale;
  • Ability to stop guessing at capacity requirements;
  • Increase speed and agility by using API-based services;
  • Stop spending money on owning, running and maintaining data centres; and
  • Go global in minutes.

These are all very valid benefits, and most are not really possible without some form of cloud-based hosting. Most are also derived from using large providers, not just your local server hosting company.

Cloud services

This includes storage (S3, EBS, Glacier), compute (EC2, AWS Marketplace) and networking (VPC). The range of purchasing options for EC2 were:

  • On-demand instances;
  • Reserved instances;
  • Scheduled instances;
  • Spot instances; and
  • Dedicated hosts/tenancy.

It would seem that choosing the purchase option might involve quite a few different stakeholders in any larger organization.

What struck me most about the infrastructure/foundation services was the range of possibilities and the size of the “catalogue.” Infrastructure planning and design needs to be closely tied to applications, architecture and business innovation. Infrastructure solutioning clearly needs to also take into account the current environment (hybrid cloud was not mentioned) and the integration of security and management across multiple environments.

I picked up on several other things:

  • Not much was said about inter-cloud interoperability, hybrid clouds and application portability;
  • Learn JSON if you are going to delve deep into AWS;
  • Get better at managing information, types and quantities of data, archiving and backup, security and privacy, and location constraints;
  • Learn more about networking, virtualization, governance and compliance; and
  • Understand what infrastructure your applications require and which ones may or may not be candidates for a cloud transformation.

From a procurement perspective, it is hard to believe that anyone could write a reasonably impartial RFP for cloud services – it’s unlikely that there will ever truly be apples-to-apples comparisons among cloud providers.


I was pleasantly surprised by how many people there were in attendance. This may be a reflection of the AWS decision to establish a Canadian Region, but I also wonder if it means a tipping point has been or is soon to be reached in Canada?

For many IT professionals, adoption of AWS may be a culture shock. There are many new terms and concepts to be absorbed and new skills to be learned. There are also new organizational models to be developed and implemented.  The time to establish the vision and strategy may have already gone by.

All in all, I enjoyed the day and would recommend that those who missed it look for AWS courses and future seminars.

Related Download
CanadianCIO Census 2016 Mapping Out the Innovation Agenda Sponsor: Cogeco Peer 1
CanadianCIO Census 2016 Mapping Out the Innovation Agenda
The CanadianCIO 2016 census will help you answer those questions and more. Based on detailed survey results from more than 100 senior technology leaders, the new report offers insights on issues ranging from stature and spend to challenges and the opportunities ahead.
Register Now