AWS launches refreshed T2, R4, C5 and I3 instances, snags Workday as new customer

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Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the launch of a new series of instances for its cloud infrastructure, both expanding current instance families and creating new categories.

At Re:Invent in Las Vegas today, Andy Jassy, AWS chief executive, announced XL and 2XL segments for its T2 series of instances, which are aimed more at the simpler workload, as well as I3, the next generation of its high I/O instances, C5 for more compute intensive workloads, and R4 for memory intensive workloads.

Two new services at opposite ends of the spectrum were also introduced; Amazon Lightsail, which caters to customers who want to spin up a virtual private server with the minimum of fuss, as well as F1 instances which cater to field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and more sophisticated hardware acceleration. Additionally, Elastic GPUs, which allow GPUs to be attached to all instances, were also unveiled.

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“If you look at these instances, nobody else has even half of these,” said Jassy, moments before announcing a bunch of new instances. “Having this number really matters for customers. We’re constantly reinventing our instance families.”

The keynote presentation focused on the notion that, to quote one of the slides, ‘with AWS, it can feel like you have been given superpowers.’ Tempting as it may be to scoff, the stats and citations kept flooding in: more than 1000 launches in 2016, compared to 159 in 2012 and 24 in 2008; acknowledgement of the Gartner IaaS Magic Quadrant ranking and particular the analyst firm’s view that AWS had ‘several’ times the size of the next 14 providers combined; the thousands of systems integrators and ISVs on board, as well as companies “born or reborn in the cloud.”

So what were these superpowers? One was ‘supersonic speed’, which relates to the greater breadth and depth of AWS’ services, while another focused on ‘immortality’; how businesses can survive and thrive long term by keeping pace with emerging technologies.

Perhaps the most interesting of the lot was the second supposed superpower, ‘x-ray vision’. Here we saw practically the only instance of competitor-bashing. When Jassy described the importance of “the ability to see through the handwaving and bombast”, a picture of Oracle’s Larry Ellison briefly appeared.

“In the old days, because it was so hard and so expensive to test and experiment, you would get these old guard leaders who stand up and make wild claims…and you had no ability to find out what was real,” said Jassy. “In the cloud that’s not the case. That ship has sailed – kind of like an America’s Cup ship.”

Talk about converting your own touchdown. But this led onto an interesting piece around analytics. AWS has also launched Amazon Athena, an interactive query service which aims to make data analysis in Amazon S3 simpler. Athena is designed for more ad-hoc analytics, and Jassy noted the new release complements Redshift and EMR, the firm’s other products in the space.

From analytics begat a discussion on machine learning, with AWS announcing a variety of new tools aimed at developers. Amazon Rekognition, as the name may suggest, focuses on image recognition, while Amazon Polly looks at text to speech capabilities and Lex is the natural language processing which powers Amazon Alexa, now available as a general service.

As is the way of such events, customers were ferried on and off the stage, from energy provider ENEL, who is aiming to move to ‘cloud only’ through AWS as well as using its IoT service, and Workday, who has confirmed it is using AWS as its preferred public cloud supplier. The latter follows the announcement yesterday that shipping carrier Matson has gone all-in, shutting down its four on-premises data centres in the process.

Again, the sheer amount of choice to prospective customers was emphasised, from infrastructure, to enterprise apps, to hybrid. Perhaps the last word should be given to William Fellows, vice president of 451 Research. He argues in the analyst firm’s latest note that 2017 will see the emergence of ‘AWS+1’ as an operating principle. This ‘blended cloud’ model would ensure the CIO and CFO can demonstrate “value, choice, and flexibility”, the company added.

You can find out more about the announcements here.

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