AWS launches its bid for cloud WAN supremacy

Data Cloud Technologies. Futuristic Interface on digital monitor

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a cloud-based wide-area networking (WAN) service that leverages its vast scale to help maintain enterprise networks.

Aptly-called AWS Cloud WAN, it brings together Amazon’s own cloud connectivity services as well as a whole host of third-party solutions into a single dashboard. The idea is to make it easier for enterprises to build, manage and monitor their WAN as if it were a single, unified network and not a jumble of networks all grafted to one another and held together with sticky-tape.

A lot of companies these days run their apps and store their corporate data in multiple environments, like public cloud, colocation facilities, on-site data centres, and in the server rooms of their branch offices. Connecting all those together, securely and reliably, and enabling remote access from anywhere via the Internet, is a faff. Network teams must typically know their way around a mix of technologies – as well as performance monitoring and security tools – from multiple suppliers in order to be able to consistently operate large-scale enterprise WANs.

“Many wide area networks used by enterprises today consist of a patchwork of connections between branch offices and data centres that were optimised for applications that run on premises,” said David Brown, vice president of Amazon EC2 (elastic cloud compute) at AWS, in a statement on Wednesday.

It’s such a headache that it represents a potentially-lucrative reward for anyone who can make life easier. ABI Research last week predicted that the network-as-a-service (NaaS) market, which includes things like cloud WAN, could be worth as much as $150 billion by 2030. By then, the analyst firm expects nearly 90 percent of global enterprises will have shifted at least 25 percent of their network infrastructure to a NaaS consumption model.

Hyperscaler AWS, with its expertise in everything cloud, is in a strong position to capitalise on the opportunity. It already offers various cloud-based networking services, like Transit Gateway, Direct Connect and Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Cloud WAN supports all these services, and is compatible with offerings from several big-brand SD-WAN, network appliance, and independent software vendors – including Aruba, Checkpoint, Cisco and VMware etc. It gives network teams a single view of their networks and a central management platform which they can use to configure a network, apply policies and automate configuration and security tasks.

“As the edge of the cloud continues to be pushed outward, and more customers move their applications to AWS to become more agile, reduce complexity, and save money, they need an easier way to evolve their networks to support a modern, distributed model that allows them to reach their customers and end users globally with high performance,” said Brown. “With AWS Cloud WAN, enterprises can simplify their operations and leave the time-consuming task of managing complex webs of networks behind.”

In addition to Cloud WAN, AWS this week also bolstered its serverless analytics portfolio with three new offerings. As its name explains, serverless analytics allows companies to churn through a vast amount of data without first having to configure or administer the underlying infrastructure. It makes it more cost effective, because customers don’t have to undertake any capacity planning or over-provision just in case. They just consume the resources they need, as and when they are needed.

The three new services address three different analytics scenarios. Amazon EMR is for customers that want to run analytics applications using open-source big data frameworks like Apache Spark and Hive. Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka (Amazon MSK) is optimised to support high-volume, real-time data ingestion for customers that use Apache Kafka. Finally, Amazon Redshift is for customers that want to do high-performance data warehousing and analytics workloads on petabytes of data, but don’t want to manage server clusters.

Meanwhile, Amazon also announced this week it has secured a deal to be Delta Air Lines’ preferred cloud provider. Under the agreement, Delta will tap AWS’s cloud portfolio as part of its digital transformation, which includes overhauling its customer care department.

“We’re not just transforming our IT backbone—we’re rallying our entire organisation to use leading technology to improve our customers’ travel experience in meaningful ways,” said Delta CIO and EVP Rahul Samant. “Our work with AWS is one of many critical steps we’re taking to modernise our technology platform, empower our employees with the best tools available, and give customers even more control over the way they fly.”

Well, hopefully not too much control.


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