The spell is apparently broken. The public cloud model is massively gaining ground in Germany. Without using the public cloud most of the German companies will struggle to play a significant role in the future market of the Internet of Things (IoT) and kicking off their digital transformation. However, it looks like that the topic has arrived at some German executive floors. The AWS Summit Berlin 2015 was a good indicator for this.
It is October 7th 2010, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels welcomes 150 developers at “Kalkscheune” in Berlin. Family environment, no partners, no booth, some snacks and drinks. It is the first AWS cloud computing event in Germany and quasi the very first AWS Summit in Germany ever. Speakers from Moviepilot, Cellular, Plinga and Schnee von Morgen are talking about their experiences with Amazon Web Services.
On June 30th 2015, almost five years later, Werner Vogels is again on stage, again in Berlin, this time at the “CityCube”, in front of over 2,000 attendees, in front of developers and decision makers. Big booths, conference food, 32 partners and 45 sessions distributed over 9 tracks. All this shows the enormous growth of the AWS Summit Berlin and reflects the interest of German IT users in the public cloud and the Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Germany has become one of the growth engines for AWS. According to the German country manager Martin Geier, the cloud region in Frankfurt (consisting of two data centers), AWS has opened in October 2014, is the fastest growing international AWS region ever!
Innovation: 1.170 new Functions and Services in 7 Years
The growth in the German market stands symbolic for AWS global growth. According to AWS, already over 1 million active customers of different sizes and from various industries are using the public cloud infrastructure. This includes 3,600 customers from the education sector and over 11,200 non-profit organizations. In order to expand the customer base in the German startup scene a partnership with Rocket Internet was established. Rocket has committed recommending all prospective startups to run their infrastructure and applications at AWS. In addition, existing startups are advised to think about moving to AWS. AWS next top target customer group is the public sector (schools and public authorities). For this purpose, the Summit hosted a public sector track for the first time. This is an important strategic step for AWS. If AWS is able to gain a foothold into one German government authority this would be a precedent that could encourage other public customer to follow.
The growth on the customer side can also be seen on the technical level. The incoming and outgoing data transfer of Amazon S3 has been increased by 102 percent in the last year. The usage of Amazon EC2 instances increased by 93 percent.
In addition, AWS operates 11 cloud regions consisting of 30 Availability Zones (AZ). One region consists at least of two AZs, one AZ consists of one or several data centers. Furthermore, 53 edge locations exist to deliver data to customers in single local markets quicker. The 12th cloud region opens in India in 2016.
Besides the advantage to be the first infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider on the market, especially two factors lead to the enormous head start: the service portfolio and the speed of innovation.
- Instead of just providing pure infrastructure, AWS has a huge portfolio of microservices that is helping customers to use the infrastructure gainful by developing web applications and backend solutions on top of it. At the same time the infrastructure platform serves as a technical enabler for new business models.
- AWS is more innovative than any other cloud provider. In the last seven years 1,170 new functions and services have been released, 516 of them only in 2014. AWS has more functionality than any other infrastructure provider.
AWS stands for the public cloud. The provider and CTO Werner Vogels again made this very clear. The private cloud has no space in the world of AWS. The hybrid cloud is just considered as the journey but not the ultimate destination. Therefore, customers are only provided with elementary solutions and services (Amazon VPC, AWS Direct Connect) for hybrid cloud scenarios and it is likely to remain like that. Customers who got used to it are Netflix, Kempinski Hotels, GPT, University of Notre Dame, Emdeon, Intuit, Infor, Splunk, Tibco and Informatica. These companies are “All-in” with the public cloud and AWS.
Corporate Customers discover the Public Cloud
Companies of all size are able to benefit from using the public cloud. Startups have the advantage to start with a greenfield approach und doesn’t drag any legacy along. They can grow slowly without making heavy investments in IT resources in the very beginning. Existing companies need one particular thing in this day and age: speed, in order to keep pace with the fast changing market conditions. An idea is just the beginning. However, a fast go-to-market mostly fails due to the technical execution because of not existing IT resources like modern tools and services that are significantly helping for the development.
AWS counts the who is who of the startup scene as its customers. Now it is about to navigate more corporate customers to the infrastructure. Unilever, Qantas, Dole, Netflix, Norvatis or Nasdaq are already big international customers on the list. In Germany after Talanx and Kärcher finally a heavyweight was presented at the AWS Summit 2015, Audi.
Audi decided for AWS in the context of its new mobility program “Audi on Demand” to provide customers with individual services. The reasons for this are requirements for a frictionless 24/7 operations as well as the capabilities for global scale in order to reach out to global customers quick and to store data in the local markets. Therefore, Audi is using several AWS services and functions such as Virtual Private Cloud, a multi availability concept and Amazon EC2. One decisive detail: Audi has transformed the organizational structure from a hierarchy model to a fully meshed model and built everything around IT.
Zalando said good-bye to its own data center and moved the IT infrastructure of its ecommerce shops into the AWS cloud. This was for strategic reasons to promote the innovation and creativity of the company. For this purpose, Zalando is empowering its employees acting autonomously to provide the necessary IT infrastructure quicker than previously. In doing so, Zalando is able to deliver its customers new functions quicker. However, Zalando’s example shows how important a cultural change is if innovation should be promoted supported by the cloud. Therefore the company is orientating on something it is calling “Radical Agility”. This is about e.g. the organization and architecture that is required to give own teams the capabilities for more freedom to learn and in this context allowing them to make mistakes. In the end, this is the only way to understand how to develop massive complex applications.
In a personal briefing Sascha Möllering, lead engineer at Zanox AG, talked about his experiences of using the AWS cloud. Möllering is significantly responsible building the virtual IT infrastructure and the development of the backend service that is used by the Zanox affiliate marketing network. Zanox operates an own data center infrastructure in Berlin to serve the European market. However, the number of customers in Brazil is constantly increasing. Zanox depends on a global scale to provide the customers in this market with a good performance. The challenge is the high latency to deliver data as fast as possible. This is the main reason Zanox decided for AWS. The cloud region “Sao Paulo” offers Zanox three availability zones and four edge locations in Brazil. For this purpose, Möllering developed a native AWS application but only focus on using core services in order trying to avoid an AWS service lock-in. Because Zanox doesn’t want to relinquish the own data center infrastructure in Berlin and connects AWS in a hybrid model. In addition, Möllering plans in the case of an AWS error and has considered a multi region scenario respectively a multi cloud scenario. Therefore he has developed an own module that is implementing the APIs of Amazon Kinesis, Microsoft Azure Service Bus as well as Apache Kafka to make sure not losing the incoming data stream and thus not losing data on no account.
Public Cloud has arrived in Germany
The AWS Summit in Berlin was a good indicator that more and more German companies are discovering the public cloud. Conversations with customers, partners and system integrators show a good progress. Audi, one of the leading German car manufacturers from one of the oldest industries, has shown that it has realized the capability and necessity of the public cloud.
The trust in the public cloud is growing and the time is playing for the public cloud providers and against the German companies. The one who is not transforming digitally will sooner or later disappear from the market. The one who wants to keep pace with digital transformation (e.g. Internet of Things, smart products, ecommerce etc.) is not able to avoid using the public cloud, its services, modern development tools as well as the global scalability.
AWS is one of the public cloud providers who can help during this transformation process. However, AWS is complex! It is complex during the setup as well as the operation and administration of the virtual infrastructure and thus also with regard to the development of web applications and backend services. No discussion! The conversation with Zanox has clarified this once again and confirmed several conversations with other AWS interested parties. Moreover, the necessary cloud knowledge is still limited and it will take some time until it has broadly arrived.