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From its origins as an online bookseller, Amazon.com Inc. has gotten its finger in a lot of pies. Among other things, it has now become a major purveyor of cloud computing services to large organizations. As we reported a few weeks ago, even the Ontario government has moved its own web site onto Amazon cloud servers as part of a broad program of data centre downsizing.

Amazon wasn’t shy about hyping the cloud at a recent technology forum, according to a blog posting on our sister site IT Business.ca. The company was one of the presenters at Computex, the massive computer trade show held in Taipei, Taiwan this week. It’s the largest ICT event in Asia and the second largest in the world.

The cloud computing market is booming because it offers organizations a way to scale their IT infrastructure without investing heavily in massive amounts of new hardware to do it. So Amazon is on to a good thing. At Computex, Amazon’s managing director of Amazon Web Services in Asia Pacific, Shane Owenby, told attendees how cloud computing has re-invented the world of IT.

Owenby described AWS use cases to the Computex audience.
Owenby described AWS use cases to the Computex audience.

The global reach and scale of Amazon Web Services (AWS) has freed many enterprises from running a lot of IT functions in house, Owenby said. He likened cloud-based IT to a utility that allocates capacity when it’s needed and taking it back when it isn’t.

When Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) launched AWS in 2008 it supported 24 services. Last year, Eric Floresca reports, it had 280 services and updates launched. Owenby said the AWS team adds “enough new service capacity every day to support Amazon’s global infrastructure when it was only a US$7 billion business.” Since 2008 Amazon has reduced the price of its cloud offering 42 times, leveraging Amazon’s scale to take costs out of its supply chain and pass the savings to customers.

Owenby set up some of the better-known advantages of cloud computing. The pay-for-use model has obvious advantages in that organizations don’t have to pay to build enough capacity for the infrequent maximum-use periods. Resources can be reassigned to other core-competency parts of the business.
The cloud enables organizations to be more agile and adapt on-the-fly. And being in the cloud encourages a wider range of innovation and experimentation by paring the cost of failure to a minimum.

And, Owenby told the audience, in a world where “time to market is the key to success or failure,” cloud computing allows companies to go global in days, instead of months or years.

Owenby listed a number of examples to illustrate how the AWS cloud delivery model is used in practice.

  • Entertainment distributor Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. (Nasdaq: LGF) uses the AWS cloud for develop and test environments, shaving deployment times from weeks to days. Building new apps for the cloud made the company’s applications cheaper to run and easier to manage, Owenby said.
  • Nasdaq exports its operational data to AWS for analytics processing, as part of its drive to improve on-premise apps.
  • In a reversal of that model, new cloud apps can be integrate back into legacy back-end systems, something Samsung Corp. (Nasdaq: SSNLF) does to deliver content while linking back to their own data centres for financial transactions.
  • News International was able to take existing apps and migrate them to the cloud via AWS, and in the process was able to shed about a third of their server farm, saving billions of dollars.
  • Netflix Corp. (Nasdaq: NFLX) uses hundreds of mid-tier services to support their users; in the U.S. at peak consumption they account for a third of all Internet traffic.

Owenby said that no matter who companies look to for cloud solutions, “you want a complete cloud solution.”

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