Burns, the Neovise analyst, says there are two battles going on in the IaaS market right now. One is for basic services: compute, network and storage. With Microsoft and Google making their IaaS offerings more open to customers, they're adding competitive pressure to AWS for some of the company's original services, he says. There is a second battle for higher-level services, like databases, security, disaster recovery and running business applications, though. And on that front, "AWS is the only game in town," Burns says. "They're walking away with the market on the higher end of the stack."
The breadth and depth of AWS services it offers in its cloud all on an on-demand basis are unmatched in the industry, he says. AWS has multiple different database offerings, from its RDS (Relational Database Service) to DynamoDB, a non-relational key-value store database. Last year, the company rolled out a data warehousing offering named RedShift, and the company has a network of ELBs (Elastic Load Balancers), EBS (Elastic Block Storage), and application and management tools for deploying applications and configuring cloud architectures. Its partner system allows customers to run enterprise-grade applications from SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and dozens of other companies in its cloud.
Burns says Amazon could have the potential to take some hits from other providers on the lower end of the market where it is facing increased competition, and there is a growing market of IaaS providers each looking to carve out a niche of its own in the market on these basic services. Microsoft, for example, claims it is one of the only companies to offer a true "hybrid cloud" offering between its on-premises Windows Server and Microsoft Azure cloud. Rackspace offers "fanatical support" and has been broadening its database offerings recently; Joyent and ProfitBricks are among the cloud providers that focus on high-performance computing, while a company like FireHost emphasizes security in its cloud.
AWS is responding in turn, though. During the past few months AWS has begun incorporating the differentiating features of competitors' services into its own cloud offering. In the past few months AWS has rolled out the following updates, for example:
Trusted Advisor: A service that monitors customers usage, recommends ways to save money by using more appropriately sized resources and provides advice on how to improve security and reliability. During the AWS Summit, Vogels said AWS has helped customers save $22 million through Trusted Advisor. "We're actually advising our customers to spend less," he says, explaining that customers who more efficiently use AWS resources will be more successful and be AWS customers longer. This service flies in the face of not just Rackspace, which emphasizes customer support, but also an ecosystem of third-party tools that provide real-time analytics of AWS services.
AWS OpsWorks: One of the lingering questions about Amazon's moves in recent years: Is the company turning its market-leading IaaS offering into a PaaS (platform as a service)? The biggest difference between the two is that IaaS is where applications run, whereas PaaS is generally where applications are developed.
AWS has a variety of PaaS-like offerings in its cloud, with the latest being OpsWorks, which makes it easier to configure AWS resources to run applications in its cloud. These complement services like AWS CloudFormation, which is helpful for tying various AWS services together, and Elastic Beanstalk, which helps users uploading applications to its cloud.