This AWS surprise took a while for me to understand, and I don’t think I’m alone in not catching on at first. Some of my early thinking about the public cloud was that it was merely a replacement for on-premises virtualization. The value proposition was that cloud providers could rack, stack, and operate servers more efficiently than any on-premises enterprise. We saw public cloud platforms offered by HP, Cisco, and even VMware through partners, which were centered on offering VMs as a service. With that in mind, let’s then step back and look at the first two services that AWS offered: SQS and S3. Neither service offers a VM; both are simply reusable components for building an application. The audience for these services is not IT infrastructure. The audience is developers. Also, think about how shadow IT on AWS developed. It was not infrastructure teams looking for places to run VMs; it was dev teams looking for resources to deliver their applications. The primary purpose of AWS is to enable developers to build applications that reside on AWS. Most of the AWS services are built to enable applications to be developed rapidly and with most of the effort spent on the features and functionality that are specific to the customer business. This is why Cisco and HP both got out of providing their own public cloud platform because they only offered VMs to infrastructure teams and not application services to developers. Customers didn’t simply want a faster way to get VMs; they wanted a faster way to build applications that deliver business value. AWS remains a developer enablement platform.
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