As a number of members told us they wanted a discussion with Amazon Web Services (which has become a major and influential player), AWS manager for the Benelux, Kamini Aisola, joined us at a special roundtable on 31 May, ready to answer members’ questions.
Due to the sensitive nature of the conversation at this ‘Users Only’ event, we can share only limited information. We appreciate the willingness of AWS to be open with the Beltug members.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) originated within online retailer Amazon, and has now existed for 11 years. Kamini opened the session with a short introduction about who AWS is and what the company stands for.
Over the years, retailer Amazon has developed a robust and large-scale infrastructure, which enables it to offer a wide range of services across different countries. Recognising the value of the expertise it had built up from this experience, Amazon decided to share its fulfilment process with third parties, via AWS. AWS now offers 90+ fully fledged services, that companies can use as building blocks for their own IT. Across Europe, AWS is experiencing accelerated adoption. Throughout all the services, Kamini emphasised, security and compliance are AWS’s top priorities, in every region, market and sector.
After this short introduction, the roundtable started, and participants began posing their questions. Here are some of the topics discussed.
Q: What's the commercial approach of AWS towards the market?
AWS is a very lean company, and aims to be easy and open to contact. There is already a Benelux team, and soon a dedicated team will be set up in Belgium as well, to provide local account management to customers.
Kamini shed some light on the two types of AWS partners:
The AWS model is centred on self-service. When there are questions, however, solution architects are available to answer them, and to accompany the company on its AWS journey. Additionally, concerns regarding security, legal aspects, compliance, etc., can be addressed.
Q: What is the compliance situation?
AWS is committed to GDPR compliance by May 2018. For compliance with the Privacy Shield, the AWS customer owns the data and therefore decides where it goes. The data can stay in Europe.
AWS also pledges to comply with the laws and regulations of each country. It therefore works with local regulators (such as the National Bank in The Netherlands).
Q: What is the approach to pricing & transparency regarding the consequences of choosing a model?
Pricing can be complex, Kamini confirmed, depending on what a customer is looking for. Third-party calculators are available online, giving the client optimisation and savings opportunities for his account.
AWS aims to be as transparent as possible. It offers help to customers to understand how they use a certain package, and can suggest changes in behaviour and package usage. Tools, such as an alert to the CFO when the invoice reaches a certain threshold, can further help control costs.
AWS customers around the table offered their feedback: optimisation is a lot of work, with plenty of analysis to be done. In a cloud model, following up on the effective usage is very important: it might even be more valuable than price discussions.
Q: What about vendor lock-in, exit strategies, etc.?
Tools (import/export) are available to migrate off AWS. A client can decide from one month to the next to end the relationship (taking into account the time period commitments in a contract, such as reserved capacities with specific discounts). This is more difficult for customers using AWS native technology.
Q: How to manage shadow IT?
AWS services are easy to order, so in quite a few companies, multiple departments might be using its services, without the company having a general overview. Kamini strongly suggested that all users in a company use proper identifiers (company name, professional email address, etc.), so the company can more easily monitor AWS services usage and related expenses. AWS can help with creating that overview, but takes privacy very seriously – this is why the company-related identifiers are so important.