Amazon’s steep learning curve

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Amazon’s steep learning curve

With all the attention focused on cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS) there’s a little secret the platform giant would prefer you didn’t know: AWS can be quite hard for the uninitiated.

“The cloud is complex and a lot of relearning has to take place,” said Craig Deveson, founder of AWS services company Cloudsafe 365. “Its even hard for people who have been in the industry for a while. There’s new terminology and you’re not just dealing with hardware. You have to relearn.”

Deveson, who is also a convenor of the AWS User Group in Australia, has had significant experience in working with major cloud providers. He calls himself a cloud evangelist, but he’s probably got more rights to that moniker than most. His last business was a Google Enterprise provider called DevNet, which he subsequently sold to Cloud Sherpas, the largest Google and Salesforce.com partner in the world.

A non-compete agreement meant he had to look elsewhere for his cloud fix. Not that he had to look far. Amazon is the giant in the room, and Deveson said the company is easier to work with than Google.

“What is good about Amazon as a partner is that they empower developers and an ecosystem on their platform,” he told CRN. “They have been good at being a disruptive company  - and so was Google. The difference is Amazon believes in devs and partners.”

But he streses that AWS can be tricky. The focus of Cloudsafe 365 is to make Amazon easy for just about anyone who’s vaguely digitally literate to use.

“What we have done is build an interface that sits on top of [AWS] so it is easier to use,” he said. “Amazon has shut those inexperienced users out in the past and simply aimed at being a great developers’ platform. We enable people to use it.”

Current customers, he said, include River City Labs and the Australian Association of Angel Investors. The company offers all the major CMS platforms, including Drupal and WordPress, and is expanding into ecommerce and other open source platforms.

Convening AWS

As a convenor of the AWS user group, Deveson said the aim is to bring users together and focus on real world examples of how AWS is being used.

“They’ll present on what they are doing, and the challenges they had. In the last meeting Half Brick, developers of the game Fruit Ninja put their app onto Facebook. It had several million downloads, and without Amazon they would not have been able to cope. They needed to scale, and Amazon allowed them to do that.”

Amazon itself takes a very hands-off approach to the User Groups he said. If they’re asked, Amazon will send someone to do a presentation, but generally they’re happy for the groups to run themselves. 

“In the end, the cloud will save customers money, and it is a better way of doing things,” he said. “But there is a learning curve. However once they break through …”

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