AWS recently held its seventh annual re:Invent conference. More than 53,000 attendees were on hand to learn, buy, network and socialize. Among the attendees were 451 Research analysts across multiple channel disciplines. Each analyst views AWS through multiple lenses, and this report provides a high-level take on what they think are the most interesting developments from the conference across hybrid cloud, partner impacts (including VMware), security, IoT, networking, storage and migration.

The 451 Take

The seventh annual AWS re:Invent did not disappoint as the most important vendor event on the tech calendar as AWS continues to set the pace for all things cloud. The rest of the pack, which includes other hyperscalers, service providers of all types, hardware vendors, ISVs and enterprises, is now in the process of determining how this year's plethora of new products and features will impact their current business strategies. As cloud becomes a teenager in 2019, the question is whether cloud will end up being completely in control. Is there room for long-tail technology vendors as cloud suppliers begin to reach back down into the enterprise, or do other hyperscale suppliers have a realistic chance of landing enterprise workloads?

Key Analyst Takeaways

Portfolio Expansion

"In the seven years since the first re:Invent, few would have bet AWS would venture into hybrid cloud, build its own hybrid cloud appliance with VMware or produce its own AI chip. And could anyone have foreseen that, in that time, attendees would rise from a few thousand to over 50,000? These facts are a testament to AWS, which has inspired the market and its customers to think differently. But it isn't resting on its laurels – AWS is willing to change its capabilities and emulate its competitors if customer (and particularly enterprise) demand dictates."

Owen Rogers, Research Director, Digital Economics Unit

"Improving enterprise compatibility and friendliness continues to be a major focus of AWS's service development and partnership efforts. New offerings, such as AWS Control Tower and AWS Security Hub, provide the centralized management, visibility, controls and metrics required to make AWS 'safe' for the enterprise. Continued collaboration with VMware (VMC on AWS, AWS Outposts) underscores AWS's drive to reposition itself – from being a 'toolbox for tinkerers' to a fully loaded enterprise cloud platform. As part of this evolution, AWS's narrative has migrated from an exclusive focus on 'cloud developers' to a broader up-the-stack callout to 'cloud builders.'"

Melanie Posey, Research Vice President and General Manager, Voice of the Enterprise

Hybrid Cloud

"Vendors and service providers are pitching their hybrid cloud strategies, and AWS just placed a big bet with the introduction of AWS Outposts – its on-premises managed hardware deployment that is fully integrated with AWS Cloud. This was an expected response to Microsoft Azure Stack and Google GKE On Prem. However, given the way AWS leadership talks about its strategy, it is clear that hybrid cloud is a transitional stage until most enterprise apps and data are hosted in an AWS cloud datacenter."

Al Sadowski, Research Vice President, Voice of the Service Provider

Partner Impacts

"Post re:Invent, the combination of AWS and VMware looks even more menacing for other would-be enterprise suppliers. There's something for everyone: public, private, hybrid and edge. Why go elsewhere? Most enterprises are using VMware software to manage on-premises infrastructure – Outposts bring VMware Cloud on AWS into this experience. AWS Outposts may also have the effect of enabling enterprises to wean themselves off of VMware as they endeavor to move completely off-premises. However, the Cloud Foundation option on this offering also enables VMware to hitch a ride with those that want to go native AWS. If you're going – we're coming too!"

William Fellows, Cofounder and Research Vice President, Cloud Transformation

"As expected, AWS introduced a wide range of tools at re:Invent, many of which, at first glance, seem to overlap with capabilities that partners build their value around – things like cost and performance optimization, or design and implementation of security policies. The question is: How should cloud-enablement partners think about new AWS features that stretch into the management categories in which they operate? Enablement partners can look at new AWS platform features and capabilities as signposts guiding the development of their own capabilities. Partners must focus on building capabilities that are more specialized than the native functions of the cloud platform, and on selling expertise."

Liam Eagle, Research Manager, Cloud, Hosting and Managed Services


"Few events compare to the dynamic showcase of re:Invent, but there is a 'gotcha' in all this abundance – the sheer complexity it brings. For security, this can introduce new exposures. Amazon, however, has seen the need to get a handle on this complexity. In new offerings, such as AWS Control Tower, AWS has recognized the need to 'level up' on tools that describe a well-architected environment of complex applications, accounts and services. As cloud providers such as Amazon take on more of the detail of managing infrastructure risks, the need for a higher level of control will become even more important to tame the risks of modern IT."

Scott Crawford, Research Director, Information Security

"With over 120 vendors with security offerings, and nearly 300 security sessions, AWS re:Invent is a security conference in its own right. Building on that, the topic is so critical to AWS that one of the announcements this week was a new full conference dedicated to security, to be held in the summer. As we analyze other announcements, AWS is clear about listening to customer demand and providing security tooling where needed. This gives security partners a clear road ahead: Integrate with AWS where you can – hello, Security Hub – and differentiate on features and multi-cloud use cases."

Fernando Montenegro, Senior Industry Analyst, Information Security

IoT and Networking

"AWS's IoT team is lending more effort toward helping customers to configure its AWS IoT Core, build applications and select services to leverage IoT for achieving their desired business outcomes. The team has put the extraction of meaning from IoT data and application of that insight toward enhancing operations front and center, spinning up what it calls a virtuous cycle of optimization and innovation – the way that IoT insight is applied, more than the technology itself, is what makes or breaks IoT projects. Customers, whose typical IoT challenges are lack of ROI and difficulty implementing the technology, should embrace the approach and take AWS's guidance."

John Spooner, Senior Analyst, IoT

"AWS's networking prowess is beginning to encroach on the service-provider world. AWS Global Accelerator targets internet applications that need to tap AWS services while maintaining high availability and sustaining consistent performance. It directs internet traffic onto the AWS global network via the nearest edge location, and then steers it to the closest healthy AWS endpoint. Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform recently launched backbone-networking services, as well; it's a trend to watch for SPs and possibly interconnection providers. Separately, Transit Gateway creates a hub-and-spoke network for Amazon Virtual Private Clouds inside AWS, easing what had become a burdensome networking model for users with thousands of VPCs."

Craig Matsumoto, Senior Analyst, Datacenter Networking


"For storage and data management, Amazon's goal is fairly simple: It wants enterprise data stored in its clouds, including content currently residing on legacy Windows file servers and NAS devices, in addition to large data sets from important niche markets such as the HPC space. While the addition of CIFS/SMB support through the new FSx family of file services doesn't move the needle on a technical-innovation basis, it is one of the most important additions that AWS has made to its storage lineup because it opens up its cloud storage to Windows applications, which are valuable for many organizations but cannot be easily rewritten to support S3 object storage."

Henry Baltazar, Research Vice President, Infrastructure


"Perhaps AWS's core mission in recent years has been to create paths for customers to migrate key workloads to the cloud. For large customers, their heaviest lifting is typically core applications – often more than 1,000 from as many as 300 vendors. AWS Migration Hub, launched in 2017, is a single console to track migration progress of AWS and partner solutions to EC2 and RDS. At re:Invent, AWS introduced AWS Control Tower for consolidating multi-account organizations' SSO, governance and administration. AWS License Manager will allow admins to allocate licenses across multi-estate topographies – not just within EC2. Combined, these aim to solve customer problems of one-off migrations and ongoing license sprawl."

Robert Mahowald, Senior VP, Client Strategy & Success

Company Performance 

"AWS is a model for other vendors to follow in terms of success; its current growth trajectory is nothing less than historic. However, there is always a broader context: AWS has a pattern of launching products early and playing a long game on features and polish. Customers mix and match freely between cloud providers today, and deliberately insulate themselves from the dangers of lock-in. The scale and delivery of re:Invent serve as an excellent reminder of why AWS is the winner and a leader today, but this isn't a horserace. There's no goal posts and no winner's circle to rest in."

Carl Brooks, Analyst, Service Providers
Christian Perry
Research Manager

As a Research Manager covering IT infrastructure, Christian manages the Voice of the Enterprise (VotE) products – built on 451 Research's proprietary global network of senior IT decision-makers – covering datacenter, server and converged infrastructure topics. With more than 20 years of experience tracking and analyzing the IT datacenter market, Christian brings broad market knowledge to research around traditional technologies and emerging infrastructure, such as converged, hyperconverged and software-defined technologies.

Rosanna Jimenez
Research Associate

Rosanna Jimenez is a Research Associate at 451 Research. Prior to joining the analyst team, Rosanna worked with 451 Research sales supporting vendor and end-user research requests. Rosanna holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Suffolk University.

Aaron Sherrill
Senior Analyst

Aaron Sherrill is a Senior Analyst for 451 Research covering emerging trends, innovation and disruption in the Managed Services and Managed Security Services sectors. Aaron has 20+ years of experience across several industries including serving in IT management for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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