AWS has just shown its new hybrid cloud ambitions make it an even broader threat

While also making it harder to label dedicated and skilled sysadmins as recalcitrant box-huggers


Comment Amazon Web Services poured out a deluge of news yesterday, but the most significant announcement could be an unusual and, I think, very significant hybrid cloud play with a set of new appliances.

One is called the AWS Panorama Appliance and is a sealed box that ingests video from cameras that don’t have analytical capabilities in their supporting storage or compute infrastructure. The Panorama Appliance can run machine vision models so that operators of those old, dumb, video rigs can start to use machine learning to analyse their video streams.

As AWS puts it, the device “can run computer vision models on multiple camera streams in parallel, making possible use cases like quality control, part identification, and workplace safety.”

The box can run models developed with AWS’ own SageMaker ML toolkit or third-party models.

What we have here, therefore, is AWS creating a hardware platform that drives consumption of its cloud, draws third-party developers to that cloud and makes life very hard for video system vendors to compete.

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Think about it: a standalone video vendor will do a decent job of baking machine vision into its kit, but probably try to upsell you to a new system along the way; AWS is offering a piece of cloud that can run a variety of best-of-breed algorithms and swap them in and out or upgrade as required. AWS is also telling you that your current hardware can stick around for a while.

The other device is called Amazon Monitron and offers sensors to monitor industrial equipment, plus a gateway to gather data and pipe it off to the AWS cloud and the Monitron ML service. Plenty of server-makers make gateways and there are lots of sensor vendors out there too. AWS is in competition with them now.

Panorama and Monitron say to me that AWS is thinking about appliances that can make new roles for hybrid cloud. If I’m right and AWS creates appliances that bring similar thinking to markets beyond video analysis and industrial machinery monitoring, it will start to terrify incumbent vendors in many industries.

One more thing: Monitron is derived from tech developed for Amazon.com's own warehouses. AWS is bringing it to market just as it productised Amazon's call centres as the AWS Connect Cloud call centre.

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AWS will be cautious in the way it uses hybrid devices like Panorama and Monitron. In his keynote Jassy railed against complex hybrid cloud experiences and suggested that the close collaboration between VMware and AWS as the kind of working arrangement that’s necessary to do hybrid right. If he sticks to those principles, Panorama, Monitron and future similar devices shouldn’t be too painful to operate.

Jassy also has the job of making sure his new EKS on-prem hybrid-Kubernetes-as-a-service delivers, especially because Google has a head-start here with Anthos.

That both companies see the need to bring the cloud-native development and operations paradigm that is Kubernetes into your data centre is also a sure sign that hybrid cloud, with plenty of it on-prem and tended by Reg readers, is going to be the dominant way of running enterprise computing for a while. So even as AWS changes and challenges everything, it is also making it harder to label dedicated and skilled sysadmins as recalcitrant box-huggers. ®


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