There was a moment this week when I realised just how important Amazon was and that it was changing the world economy. That shouldn’t really have been a surprise to me, but because we work in the world of Amazon all the time, I had started to take things for granted. You just accept that all around you impossible things are happening, and you get on with doing your own thing within it.
So what was the moment that made me sit back? It occurred when I was writing a little paragraph about one of the Amazon Web Services (AWS). It was barely a hundred words.
For those that know us, you’ll know that we run Seller Dynamics, a marketplace management service that supports, among many other markets, Amazon.com, .co.uk etc. What you might not know is that we use AWS as one of our platforms to provide that service.
Because we use AWS day in, day out, I’d chosen to explain a little about AWS on our corporate site at Objective Associates, basically the site needed some fresh content.
We develop using a range of the services within AWS and one of them is AWS Kinesis, it processes data streams in as near real time as you can. It lets you run queries against each data element that comes in, against the previous 24 hours worth of data that has streamed by. We sort of take that for granted, but the sentence I wrote that made me sit back, was the little throw away, closing sentence at the end of the paragraph.
“There are no end to the possible uses, even video analysis is possible with AWS Kinesis.”
Hang on, let’s just swallow that properly. How on earth can you do that?
You see, Kinesis is a pay as you go service. This isn’t some huge capex program you need to fund. You don’t need a team of expensive consultants to consult with, analyse with, and then develop with, over several aborted projects and redesigns. If you want a platform that can support video streaming analysis you can buy it on pay as you go with a Barclaycard – that’s something else.
That little closing line just left me a bit dumbfounded to be honest. I’m not suggesting video analysis won’t require some design work – but here is a platform that casually says it can be used to analyse video, and it’s cheap enough to buy in the same way you buy the weekly groceries.
Take that Kinesis capability and add to it their AWS RDS and AWS Lambda offerings and you have the ability to run in a “serverless” environment – i.e. you don’t have to manage the servers, you just get out the Barclaycard. AWS RDS lets you create SQL databases on the fly as you need the capacity, AWS Lambda runs your code when you need it to run. You only pay for it when you use it.
Cloud experts will be rolling their eyes at me – fair enough.
But it’s important to emphasise that when Cloud Computing first started getting marketed at us, it was a lot of nonsense. It wasn’t scalable as the marketing literature said it was, the word elastic was a joke.
“Cloud Computing was as elastic as the elastic you’d find in a 10 year old pair of Primark pants – the elastic snapped.”
Originally the idea of running on the cloud seemed like one that Microsoft would own, but here is Amazon, a bookseller, (a bookseller), running infrastructure platforms that are awe inspiring.
So this bookseller has not only reconstructed retail, its reconstructed computing as well; and as we know, it’s now constructing space rockets.
Amazon has become something very important to the world economy, we all know that, but I don’t think we truly realise just how important.
They now own something like 50% of all online retail in the USA. They are the number one place to go to if you want to research a consumer product. More than half their retail marketplace sales come from third parties. They’ve revolutionised the delivery side of internet shopping with next day and even same day delivery. They are opening up marketplaces in Australasia and Scandanavia. Their Prime users are over 60% in the States. They’ve opened up markets to manufacturers and retailers from anywhere in the planet, to sell into anywhere in the planet without any hassle. Jeff occasionally cashes in a Billion dollars now and again to fund his space program. And… and… and…
In the office we wondered over a coffee why their cloud computing was so awesome. It’s pretty obvious really, if you are using it to run your own intergalactic empire and power your own fleet of space cruisers, it simply has to work and work well. You never saw Ming The Merciless in Flash Gordon stuck for a few MIPs, did you?
The ease with which you can create database instances, scale up, scale down, envoke idle code and process in realtime data streams from multiple sources is changing the computing world and it will change your business regardless of the sector you work in.
Amazon is changing the economy you work in, not just in retail, but in computing; and that will affect you. Just as retail and retailers have had to change because of Amazon, so will the software & computing worlds. That won’t come as a shock though, and the reason it won’t, is because we are all just taking it for granted.
[Initially posted on LinkedIn]