6 clues to watch for at Amazon's re:Invent cloud show

Now in its second year, re:Invent could provide a peek into Amazon's next moves in the cloud space

Last year some 6,000 attendees trekked out to Las Vegas for the first customer conference of what many consider to be the leading public IaaS cloud provider: Amazon Web Services. AWS re:Invent 2012 saw the launch of a new data analytics and warehousing product, price drops on its services, and lots of tips and tricks for how to use Amazon's cloud.

Here are six things to watch for at second installment, happening this week:

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How big?

Last year, roaming the halls of AWS re:Invent, some of those in attendance spoke about how it was "the cloud show" of the year. Salesforce.com, VMware, and die-hard OpenStack folks may take issue with that. Either way, it's an important show for the cloud computing industry, and it will be interesting to see one year later what the buzz is after a rousing inaugural in 2012.

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What does Amazon have to say about cloud security?

One of the biggest limiting factors to broader public cloud adoption remains security questions. Whether this is a legitimate concern by users or not, the fact is that it's top of mind for many people considering cloud usage. Amazon and other public cloud providers have robust security policies -- they likely spend more on security than most any other business can. Just because Amazon has architected its cloud to be secure does not mean that every single user has that same level of security, though. Amazon preaches its "shared responsibility" security model, meaning that customers should take due diligence to make sure their clouds are as secure as they need them to be. Will Amazon do more to assuage the concerns of security-conscious cloud customers?

What about the private cloud?

Amazon is the market leader in public IaaS services. Its cloud has a wide variety of features, from compute and storage on demand to a variety of databases and applications that run on top of its virtual machines. However, a private cloud sitting on a customer's own premises is sometimes preferred. AWS doesn't offer a private cloud that sits on customer sites, though. Instead, it offers virtual private clouds, which are areas of Amazon's infrastructure dedicated to individual customers. A variety of partners like Eucalyptus, NetApp, and others will provide on-premises products that can connect with Amazon's public cloud. What will Amazon say to customers who want an Amazon-like cloud on their own premises?

News from recent weeks adds a new wrinkle to this question: Amazon won a contract to build a cloud for the CIA, which will likely not be hosted on Amazon infrastructure. If Amazon builds a private cloud for the CIA, could that be a prototype for some future private cloud product from AWS?

Howdy, partner

One of the biggest strengths of Amazon's cloud is its network of partners who offer products and services on top of its virtual machines. Through the AWS marketplace, companies like SAP, MongoDB, Alfresco, Riverbed, and dozens of others have all certified their products to run on AWS clouds. Will more partners join the lineup?

What's next?

AWS sets the tone in the cloud IaaS market. When it drops its prices, Microsoft has vowed to match it on core services. When it rolls out new virtual machines instance types, Rackspace does so too on the same day. Perhaps this comes down to the fact that AWS had a multi-year head start compared to many of its competitors in terms of offering public cloud services. But others are catching up.

How will AWS maintain its lead? Last year Amazon released RedShift at re:Invent, a data warehousing service. Will there be another major product released this year?

Some areas where Amazon could continue to move is widening its scope of databases, data storage options, and virtual machine instance sizes and types. Another area it could pivot toward is more tools for developers to build applications atop AWS infrastructure. AWS already has software development kits and auto-scaling services like Elastic BeanStalk to help deploy applications, but it could move further into the platform as a service and application development markets.

Senior Writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing for Network World and NetworkWorld.com. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW. Read his Cloud Chronicles here for all the news from AWS re:Invent.

This story, "6 clues to watch for at Amazon's re:Invent cloud show" was originally published by Network World.

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