When Amazon Zigs, Everyone Else Zigs and Zags

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For the most part, corporate press releases are boring. It’s an exercise in patting oneself on the back while saying next-to-nothing of significance that IT companies are especially guilty of performing as a rote exercise. Then again, every now and then an announcement produces a reaction that stirs things up. To me, the significant parts that go unsaid in an announcement are, in exceptional cases, revealed by the reaction of others (or the lack thereof). Last week, Amazon was good enough to create an interesting example of a PR-by-reaction.

It began with an announcement from Amazon, which can be found here. The post was part of announcing the release of AWS Management Portal for vCenter. Basically, it’s a vCenter plug-in that makes it easy to lift VMs to AWS. It has some additional features, but overall, is compelling only in that it lives with vCenter. To flip that around, it’s really exciting because it’s in vCenter. It’s all in the interpretation…

Game changing for real?

What I find intriguing about it is that it’s the first foray of Amazon into private datacenters. Of course, Amazon has always aimed to make it easy to lift a VM to AWS; that’s part of being disruptive. What they didn’t do is reach into private datacenters at the management level. Instead, it was a pull into AWS, not a push out of private datacenters. Simply put, they couldn’t, because they didn’t have a footprint in private datacenters. That is what seems to have changed.

AWS Management Portal for vCenter includes integrated support for VM Import. Once the portal is installed within vCenter, you can right-click on a stopped VM and select 'Migrate to EC2' to create an EC2 instance from the VM.

- Amazon Web Services, AWS Management Portal for vCenter










Sometimes reactions are more interesting than the action

The Amazon post is from May 30th. The Register reported on it the same day. By June 2nd, Chris Wolf (CTO of Americas for VMware) had responded. On June 4th, RightScale VP of BD, Baily Caldwell, also posted a response to both the original AWS post and VMware response. There are myriad other reactions out there from companies and IT pundits.


The one reaction that I didn’t see was from Citrix. Perhaps that’s not surprising as they are positioning themselves as the private-public broker technology of choice as part of their Mobile Workspaces push.

It all gets very confusing, very quickly. In these situations, I like to boil it down to looking at the action (Amazon, yet again, showing their disruptive side) and especially, the reaction. In a sense, in this age of low signal-to-noise, seeing a strong reaction can help us decide where we should concentrate.

In this case, Amazon announced something interesting, but not overly-impressive. The other players in the space – and this is a clear indication that the space is hybrid and not public NOR private – reacted strongly because they have come to know the Amazon modus operandi.

First, Amazon introduced very basic technology, and looks at the reaction. If they get a strong reaction, they’ll start throwing functionality at whatever-it-is at a furious pace.

Make no mistake; once Amazon has stepped into your backyard, if they like the space, they’ll do everything that they can to overwhelm you on every front. That is their model, after-all. They did it with books, then went sideways to do it with datacenter computing, while growing book-selling into full-blown online commerce of everything, and this is, perhaps, the start of their next chapter.

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