AWS takes cheap shots

The rise of generative AI has opened up a huge new market for big cloud providers, but it’s also a bit of a reset. Unlike the rise of containers, for example, generative AI is a new market. Some players who have long been latecomers to the general cloud market – such as Google – are clearly betting on it to change their fortunes. But for AWS, that means it’s now in a position where it may have to defend its lead, something the company isn’t used to and something that became clear in AWS CEO Adam Selipsky’s re:Invent keynote today.

AWS used to make occasional fun of Oracle at its first keynotes. Today, during the relatively sedate event at the AWS keynote standards, there are many references to Google and Microsoft (and its close relationship with OpenAI) – and it feels like Selipsky is throwing punches and taking a few cheap shots at the expense of his competitors. That’s not something a company does when it feels it’s at the top of its game.

When talking about the AWS data center footprint for example, Selipsky noted – as he has done in previous keynotes – that AWS ensures that its availability zones are geographically distributed – not just three zones in the same data center . He then specifically explained that if AWS had a setup like that in France and a fire broke out there, the zone would have been. At best, that’s a thinly veiled reference to Google multi-week outage in its Paris data center earlier this year. AWS, of course, also has its share of losses – just like every other cloud provider. Although to be fair, Google’s loss is too much.

Image Credits: Frederic Lardinois/TechCrunch

“Some would like you to think that all clouds are the same, but that’s not true,” he said. “I mean, imagine if you have a region that is supported by a data center, or if you think that your provider has a lot of AZs in France, for example, and you think that’s strong, but it turns out that they in the actual location. . I mean, an incident like a water spill followed by a fire can destroy an entire region within days.”

Next, with the launch of the new Graviton chips, Selipsky also emphasized that “we are already in the fourth generation in just five years. Some cloud providers haven’t even shipped their first server processors yet.”

But it’s generative AI where Amazon is currently weakest. For the first time in a long time, it doesn’t have a first-mover advantage in the cloud. Unsurprisingly, the recent OpenAI drama has provided plenty of material for the AWS CEO to take swipes at the competition, including the news that Microsoft has stopped its employees from using OpenAI’s ChatGPT due to security concerns.

“You really shouldn’t use any of this in a serious way if it’s not secure and private,” Selipsky said. “When I think about it, I can’t think of other cloud providers that are trying to offer AI services or customers using gen AI applications. They are not confident in their models and that their data is safe.

And while Microsoft Azure offers access to dozens of proprietary and open source models, too, Selipsky tries to take advantage of the fact that the company is very closely linked to OpenAI: “Things are moving very fast – and at that environment, the ability to adapt is the most valuable capability you can have. There is no one model to rule them all. And there is certainly no one company that provides models that are used by all. So that you don’t want a cloud provider that is primarily a provider model.”

Image Credits: Frederic Lardinois/TechCrunch

During the keynote, Selipsky brought Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei on stage to discuss the close partnership between the two companies and learn how AWS users can get exclusive early access to some of the parts of the Claude model at Anthropic. AWS also plans to invest up to $4 billion in Anthropic, making that look like a relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI. But I think it depends on your perspective.

Speaking about CodeWhisperer, Amazon’s competitor to GitHub’s highly successful Copilot, the AWS CEO noted that “other providers that launch tools, they launch them without the ability to provide data privacy and security that is required by almost every business.”

I think AWS competitors will take issue with that.

The thing is, AI is causing businesses to rethink their cloud strategies. Microsoft’s close relationship with OpenAI gives it an early advantage. Google has long had a reputation in the world of AI and machine learning in general. With tools like SageMaker, Bedrock and now the Q assistant, AWS may be on par, but it’s not in its natural element – and its rhetoric shows that.

Read more about AWS re: Invent 2023 at TechCrunch

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