AWS, also known as Amazon Web Services, owns 32% of the $36.5 billion cloud market while generating more revenue than the next 3 largest providers combined. AWS has demonstrated a competitive edge year after year in their analysis of disruptive trends in cloud technology and reacting to them with continuous product and service development. In their most recent Re:invent, which was done virtually due to COVID-19, Andy Jassy discussed the long list of initiatives that he and his team have been working on for the past year. Part of their efforts focused specifically on the growing utilization of hybrid cloud solutions.
Hybrid cloud refers to a cloud computing environment involving public cloud, private cloud, on-premise, and third-party storage for computing solutions. According to a recent Forrester report, 88% of companies are now adopting a hybrid IT approach and 89% are aware that a hybrid cloud strategy is a critical part of that adoption. These solutions offer companies the flexibility to shift workloads between on-prem and cloud environments, which ultimately enables them to efficiently respond to the constantly changing demand and the elevated costs of data storage.
Hybrid Cloud in Action
AWS has been using hybrid cloud one way or another since the business was launched. They have had services like AWS Storage Gateway that allow on-premises applications to easily connect with AWS cloud storage, while the AWS Directory service provides a managed Microsoft Active Directory instance in the AWS Cloud. They may have teased at the idea of Hybrid cloud, but it wasn’t until AWS’s main competitors ramped up the demand for it by introducing products and services of their own to store data in third party locations for AWS to decide this is a trend that they cannot let pass. In 2018, AWS released a service called “AWS Outposts,” a full rack server system that enables an AWS node to run on-premises. This was their first crack at a hybrid cloud solution meant to disrupt the market that their competitors have already bought into. In the most recent virtual Re:invent session, Jassy announced the release of two new Outposts products that are smaller than the one released in 2018. Jassy noted, the two smaller Outposts formats have the same functionality of the 2018 Outposts, but just physically are more capable for adoption in smaller technology decks. Jassy quotes “That means that restaurants, hospitals, retail stores or factories can use Outposts that AWS distributes to that edge”. AWS has the vision for hybrid cloud to bring the experience to customers wherever they are. It was also rumored that there would be an announcement at this year’s Re:invent involving a multi-cloud management option. This did not end up coming to fruition, but it is certain that it is in AWS’s pipeline in the near future.
Enterprises rely on cloud infrastructure for their core business functions and these enterprises are most likely not willing to store all of their important data into one cloud bucket. From my perspective, hybrid and multi-cloud storage is at the forefront of disruptive data technology with protocols that are proving they can be flexible, cost-effective, secure, and powerful when dealing with enterprise computing. It will be exciting to see the continued developments at AWS as they continue to inform, expand, and improve the products and services they release. While AWS is clearly the industry leader, the development of hybrid cloud solutions creates an opportunity for smaller companies to incubate their own storage solutions. This development in bespoke cloud technology could prove to be attractive to the major cloud providers.