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Don’t let AWS Re:Invent blind you to your real cloud needs

I went to Amazon’s AWS Re:Invent trade show this week for the first time ever. It’s more of a place to meet people than to learn about what’s latest with Amazon Web Services these days, but AWS does a great job in updating the faithful on what’s new, what’s relevant, and what tech IT will be using in the next year.

But you need to be careful about what you take back from these trade shows. They’re full of information and advice in service of the vendor’s agenda. Not yours. As a result, too many enterprises plot their cloud computing (or whatever) plans incorrectly. Your plans, no matter what you hear at a trade show, should be based on your purposes. At these shows, the right questions to ask center around how the technology fits your needs, not how you implement the vendor’s vision.

That vendor bias is why you don’t see at shows like Re:Invent how to do multicloud, how to do cross-cloud data integration, or how to design security so it’s systemic to both on-premises and public cloud systems. AWS, Microsoft, Google, et al. want you to use their ownclouds exclusuvely, and they’re not going to focus on how you can best use their clouds with other vendors’ clouds or on-premises systems. Even though such mixes are typically the best approach for enterprises.

I don’t blame the big cloud providers, by the way—they have to act in their own interests. Likewise, you need to act in your own interests.

So, here are a few steps to using the vendor shows in service of your agenda:

  • Enterprise cloud computing requires that many technologies work well together, so you need to focus on the holistic architecture. This is never a single public cloud provider, and it is never something that’s just been announced.
  • You have to deal with the fundamentals, such as storage, compute, databases, security, and governance. These issues can more boring than attending the receptions on the first days of the conference or getting a free hat, and they don’t get the same attention as whatever the vendor’s latest offering is.
  • Cloud technology is used to deal with the operational and strategic issues in the business. That fact seems to get lost by many trade show attendees, who get mesmerized by the shiny stuff.

If you fit the use of cloud technology to the actual issues you need to solve in the business, you’ll be fine. But if you’re just bringing home the new technology with your free backpack, you could find that you’re missing the point of cloud computing—and wasting your time and travel dollars.

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