Five themes you might have missed from the Amazon EC2 15th Birthday Event

The classic iteration of Amazon’s AWS Elastic Computing, or EC2, product is being retired just as EC2 reaches its 15th birthday. Hosting the party, theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, thought that the best way to celebrate would be to delve into just how the groundbreaking EC2 changed the face of computing all those pre-cloud years ago; and now, with the original product deprecating, just what themes Amazon is embracing to replace the iteration and evolve.

Multiple interviews with in-house experts took place. If you missed any of them, here’s a look at insights and disclosures that pertain to this now-veteran, resizable cloud-compute web service. (* Disclosure below.)

1. EC2 was a precursor to modernization and digitalization

Before EC2 cloud computing was so unusual, particularly in the public sector, that Amazon’s initial efforts in developing the product was overwhelmingly about education — and not just getting customers to understand it, but internally, too.

“The first questions [then] were: ‘What is the cloud?’ and ‘Doesn’t Amazon sell books?’” said Sandy Carter, vice president of worldwide public sector partners and programs at Amazon Web Services Inc.

A million visitors an hour to a government website during a stimulus funding program using EC2 was one of the initial success stories. “That was amazing,” Carter recalled.

Financial broker-regulator FINRA’s whopping hundred-billion financial transactions are examples of scaling that’s taken place since then. That’s joined by data-in-space and a product called Ground Station, an as-a-service satellite communications and data environment with pay-per-antenna-time pricing.

2. Custom processors are rolling

It has been performance improvements generated by Amazon’s custom chip Graviton aimed at parallel execution that has been another celebratory element of AWS’  birthday.

“We were very pleasantly surprised when we got our first chips off the line,” said Raj Pai, vice president of EC2 product management at Amazon Web Services, which claims a 40% performance gain, with less cost, using the custom silicon.

Pai pointed out in an interview with theCUBE the two reasons the time was nigh for Amazon’s own chip. First, there’s a development shift across swathes of verticals to microservices and containers. Chips that can handle those simultaneous, multithreading environments must now be implemented. Second is the trend of bringing compute power to the data, as seen with geographically ubiquitous computing. Bringing materials and manufacturing in-house gives Amazon significantly more control over costs.

Enterprises want “compute power everywhere,” according to Pai, and that takes a lot of chips, which gets expensive if they are coming off a third-party shelf.

Incidentally, green credentials are also factored in, according to Elaine Harvey, director and technical advisor at AWS, who spoke with theCUBE during the event: “Graviton is not only cost-to-compute higher efficiency, but it is also power-to-compute higher efficiency. So, it’s a greener option,” she said.

3. Regulation is driving locale expansion for cloud

That compute-everywhere demand that Pai speaks of is as much a part of regulatory compliance as digital transformation, the internet of things or future computing, according to  one AWS executive. The public sector, for instance, still requires certain data to be stored on-premises. For regulated industries to leverage cloud solutions, the computing component must find its way to the data center, not the other way around.

“Customers are telling us that we need to operate everywhere,” Joshua Burgin, general manager of AWS Outposts, told theCUBE during the event.

Outposts is Amazon’s hybrid product that offers AWS infrastructure and services to on-prem, data centers and others. Low latency, the aforementioned local data processing, and data residency are all contributors to the regionalization found now in AWS. AWS scaled in that respect.

“We went from three availability zones in one region 15 years ago, to 25 regions in 80 availability zones,” Burgin stated. It’s “the ability to ensure that their compute and their storage are in whatever country or municipality or city or state that they need them to be.”

New smartphone betting, known as iGaming, which usually legally requires jurisdictionally local processing and data store, is an example Burgin uses. It’s something not prevalent or possible in early cloud computing history.

The telco industry is another vertical that has more recently been enabled to adopted public cloud. Dish Network Corp. will be building its 5G network on AWS, Burgin disclosed.

Latency-sensitive telcos are expected to become extreme edge computing users — mini data centers actually located on the mast are likely to become common. Outposts, notably, will later this year be available in a pizza-box-thin 1U form-factor, down from 42U. Retail stores, back office and other traditionally non-data intensive locations will, too, benefit from the new form factors, according to Amazon.

4. COVID caused mass adoption of digital trends almost overnight

The early days of the pandemic accelerated the growth of AWS services rapidly.

“It went from zero to 100 in March [when] everybody had to go online,” Harvey said. “Companies that had been already starting down that path, going online, scaling more [it was an] incredible amount of acceleration, but also maturation and growth in the whole portfolio of AWS.”

Startups, particularly, have benefited from EC2 over the years. They don’t need to buy any infrastructure outright anymore for one thing, Harvey pointed out.

5. Instances, regions have scaled significantly since the early days of EC2

No one knew what an instance was 15 years ago, according to Carter. (They are, roughly, virtual server environments in EC2 for running applications on AWS). Today, there are over 400 different instances providing workload-adaptable CPUs, memory and other resources.

Meena J. Gowder, principal of product and business development for edge computing infrastructure at AWS, and who was in fact the first product manager leading Outposts, disclosed in an interview with theCUBE that there would be seven more regions upcoming. That’s to augment the existing 25. Still not every corner of the world, but that’s where the hybrid-oriented Outposts can help.

“Using Outposts, customers can modernize and containerize using AWS services while they continue to remain on-premises before moving to the region,” Gowder said. “Outposts being a fully managed service that can be rolled into customer’s data center has been a huge differentiator. We currently support 60 countries worldwide, and we’ve seen customers deploying Outposts and migrating more applications to run on Outposts worldwide.”

Be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Amazon EC2 15th Birthday Event. (*Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Amazon EC2 15th Birthday Event. Neither Amazon Web Services Inc., the sponsor of theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Image: Blue Planet Studio

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