Category Archives: Amazon AWS

Amazon sells a part of its Chinese business for $301 million

The strict rules in China is clearly affecting American businesses. The latest casualty in this list is Amazon. In announced that it will be selling computing equipment used for its cloud services to its local partner, Beijin Sinnet Technology Company. This move is aimed to comply with the new Chinese regulations on how foreign companies can operate on Chinese soil.

Amazon sold this crucial aspect of its business to its Chinese partner for $301 million. However, the company reiterated that it would continue to hold the intellectual property rights for its hardware worldwide.

The latest Chinese regulations that came into effect in June requires companies to store data locally. This law was aimed to tighten the scrutiny of cross-border transactions and to implement stricter surveillance measures.

Already, Amazon had to contend with a lot of regulations due to China’s tight Internet controls. In August, Beijing Sinnet was forced to shut down its VPN and other services that could circumvent the Great Firewall of China. So, this made it more difficult for Chinese to access any content that was not approved by the government.

Though there were a few critics who thought this move by Amazon could trigger problems later on for the company, it was nevertheless necessary for Amazon to continue its operations in China and to even expand to other business areas in the market.

Interestingly, AWS has a hardware partnership with Ningxia province in northwest China. But, the company clarified that this venture will not be affected in any way as all public cloud services of Amazon in China is exclusively managed by Sinnet.

Though Amazon paints a perfect picture, it’s not so perfect really as it casts a shadow over the way other companies such as Microsoft and IBM operate in China. It remains to be seen how the other major players will react to this sale and how they will change their respective business to comply with Chinese laws.

The biggest advantage from these moves goes undoubtedly to local Chinese firms, which is also the aim of the government. Currently, about 80 percent of all cloud services revenue and more than half of all data centers are owned by Chinese companies. These numbers could go up, thereby signaling bonhomie for Chinese tech companies.

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Kroger in on cloud, but not on AWS

The nation’s largest grocery store chain, Kroger, is moving to the cloud.  But, it has decided to stay away from Amazon Web Services (AWS). Instead, it has decided to give millions of dollars to Microsoft and Google for using their cloud services.

This pattern is something that we’ve come to see across many retail giants. A few months back, there was a big tussle between Walmart and AWS, where the former asked its IT providers to avoid using AWS.

This stand-off between AWS and leading grocery chains continues with Kroger deciding to park its data and applications in Microsoft and Google. This move is likely to counter the foray of Amazon into different industries, including retail grocery.

In one sense, it’s not right to blame Walmart, Target or for that matter, Kroger, because if Amazon enters the retail grocery market, then it becomes a direct competitor for the others. So, it makes no sense to keep data on a competitors storage service.

For Kroger, the entry of Amazon poses a direct threat. And that’s because Amazon wants to enter the pharmacy market and reduce the prices of generic medicines. That’s not good news for Kroger because it gets about nine percent of its total sales from its 2,200 pharmacies. If Amazon enters and disrupts this market, then it can affect the profitability levels of Kroger.

If you remember, that’s exactly what Amazon did with Whole Foods. It bought the company for $13.7 billion and immediately slashed the prices of this upscale grocery chain. So, if it does the same with pharmacy, it can put Kroger in a difficult financial spot.

This strategy seems to apply only to new initiatives, as Kroger already has a few projects on AWS.

But, it doesn’t seem to affect AWS in any way as it announced another stellar quarter where revenue surged by 42 percent.

In the meanwhile, it’s great news for Microsoft and Google that are looking to catch up with AWS.

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Can Oracle Beat AWS?

The cloud war is heating up with the entry of another tech giant, Oracle, in the cloud industry. For some time, Oracle has been planning the transition to cloud and it has finally succeeded in years of strategy and effort. So, it’s time for the other three giants, namely Google, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, to up their stakes.

While some may regard Oracle as a relatively new entrant to the cloud world, Larry Ellison, the CTO and co-founder of Oracle, doesn’t think so. In a keynote address at Oracle’s OpenWorld conference in San Francisco, he took a few digs at AWS and said that Oracle could beat AWS.

Why did he say that and is there any truth in his statement?

One area that Oracle has massive experience when compared to AWS and other cloud companies is in running mission critical applications. In fact, if you look back at Oracle’s past work, it has been running many complex applications that are very critical for the businesses that use it. This experience is where Oracle scores over other cloud companies, as it can be helpful in running critical applications in the cloud.

Besides this experience, Oracle is embarking on an aggressive price strategy to woo customers to its own products. Also, the guaranteed high performance in Oracle’s cloud platform, something that comes from the strong infrastructure it has developed over the years, ia another aspect that should worry the top three cloud computing giants.

Another fact is that there is so much of untapped potential in the enterprise infrastructure market that there is an opportunity for any company with the right products to thrive in it. One possible advantage for Oracle is that it entered late, but it has learned from the mistakes of other companies, so the chances for it to use the right strategy is high. Considering that more than eighty percent of companies haven’t moved their infrastructure to the cloud, there’s plenty of opportunities for everyone, including Oracle.

Let’s see how all of this plays out for Oracle. Can it really beat the king of cloud computing, AWS? Yes, provided it plays its cards well and makes the most of the advantages it has.


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Why AWS chose Bahrain for its operations?

The middle-east is becoming an important destination for companies across different sectors, and the cloud industry is no exception. Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced that it will open its first data-center in this region by 2019. Surprisingly, AWS has not chosen the more glamorous and popular Dubai or Abu Dhabi, rather it has chosen to open three data centers in the relatively less-known country of Bahrain.

Currently, AWS is the leading cloud computing provider in the world, but competition is heating up with Microsoft and Google making ambitious plans to take the cloud battle head-on. In the light of this competitive environment, it makes sense for every company to expand its horizons to new markets, and that’s exactly what AWS is also doing.

It is planning to open up data centers in the Nordic region by 2018 followed by more infrastructure and investments in other European countries, China, Hong Kong and India.

You might wonder why the middle-east since a lot of the economies here depend solely on oil. Well, that’s changing because of the dropping oil prices. In fact, Dubai and Abu Dhabi have emerged as top tourist destinations and the governments and kingdoms of these countries are working hard to bring in more businesses for their economic development.

Traditional oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia are also looking to move beyond their oil export business and are focusing on developing other sectors of their economy. So, they’re welcoming more companies to setup shop here and this means, service providers like AWS follow suit to cater to these companies.

An interesting aspect though is the fact that AWS chose Bahrain over other popular countries to set up its operations. And that’s because Bahrain has always been a stable country with little political turmoil. The chances for it to get embroiled in controversies is also relatively less, unlike what’s happening in countries like Qatar, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

The regime is business-friendly and is wooing companies to start operations here. To top it all, the cost of living in Bahrain is far less when compared to cities like Dubai that are truly becoming some of the most expensive places to live and work. As a result, the cost of labor is fairly less. Bahrain is also known for attracting talent from countries like India and Pakistan, so this is an additional incentive to start operations here.

For all these reasons AWS chose Bahrain as a key hub for its presence in the middle east and this is definitely the right move.

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Who is building the world’s smartest cloud?

Cloud computing has come a long way since it first came into existence almost a decade ago. During this time, it has evolved to transform application development, hosting, deployment, administration and more. In these years, it has also helped businesses to streamline their processes, increase productivity, reduce costs and widen its customer base.

But is that all? Can we expect cloud computing to remain in this robust way over the next decade?

Definitely not, as some of the major cloud service providers in the world are constantly working to create cloud platforms that are faster, less expensive and can store more data. In many ways, they are always working to create the world’s smartest cloud quicker than that of their competitors.

Let’s see how the three major cloud providers, namely, Alphabet, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, have fared so far.


During the annual developers conference conducted by Team Google, the showcased new services that will herald the next phase of cloud computing. It’s powerful data processors, popularly called as tensor processing units, are using machine learning and artificial intelligence to automate many of the tasks that are currently being done by humans today.

Each of these tensor processing units or TPU for short, will have a minimum of 180 teraflops of processing power and each pod will have a group of 64 TPUs. You can now imagine the massive computing power that Google plans to offer soon.

It is expected to be soon available for individuals and businesses through Google Cloud Platform.


Amazon has been beefing up efforts to have its own smart cloud. To this end, it is integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities into its platform, so developers can get more out of the AWS platform.

It is also integrating a host of other tools such as Amazon Lex chatbot, Alexa skills set and more to give greater depth, versatility and power to its platform.


Microsoft is not to be left behind in this race for the smartest cloud. Project Brainwave, a next-generation project comprising of some of the most talented of researchers, is working on field-programmable gate array chipsets that can power artificial intelligence.

Many analysts predict that this platform would be more versatile and powerful when compared to the one that’s being developed by Google. This is partly because artificial intelligence is expected to change the way applications are built and deployed, so a platform with built-in AI capabilities is sure to have an edge.

So, who is going to win this three way battle between AWS, Microsoft and Alphabet for creating the smartest cloud? At this point, Microsoft seems to have the lead, but it’s going to be hard to say who will lead this market. Regardless of the winner, this is sure to be an interesting ridr for customers.

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Rule the 3 Kingdoms of AWS Cloud Computing With Game of Clouds 2017

Do you use AWS Marketplace? If you do, you know that with over 6,000 product listings, it can be tough to find what you’re looking for.

That’s why CloudEndure created an AWS Marketplace map featuring the top-rated software and services in a range of categories, including network infrastructure, app development, and monitoring.

Using a custom tool developed in-house, CloudEndure scanned the entire AWS Marketplace and filtered the 76 top products out of 6,000. All of the products included in the map (and accompanying detailed table) were reviewed by at least five customers, and received at least three stars.

game of clouds

This great map was inspired by the new season of Game of Thrones. As you can see below, the map is divided into 3 kingdoms: Developer Tools, Business Software, and Software Infrastructure. Within each kingdom are fiefdoms for specific missions, such as migration, security, monitoring, and collaboration.

So whether you are a Stark, a Targaryen, or even a Lannister, the Game of Clouds map will help you attain the crown of AWS cloud computing perfection!

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Amazon’s Q2 Results

Microsoft and Google released spectacular results, and Amazon Web Services, the king of cloud market, was not to be left behind.

During the second quarter of 2017, AWS earned $4.1 billion in revenue. This was almost 11 percent of the overall revenue of Amazon during this period. This is a significant jump from the revenue it earned over the previous two quarters, which were, $3.54 billion and $3.66 billion respectively. The overall sales for this period was a whopping $38 billion.

One of the areas that did see a big decline is in the operating margin, that had reduced to 22.3 percent, the lowest value over the last six quarters. During the conference call, Brian Olsavsky, the Chief Financial Officer of Amazon, explained that this fall in operating margin was due to a 71 percent increase in assets that were acquired in the form of capital leases for its cloud business.

These capital leases have directly contributed to a manifold increase in the infrastructure of AWS, especially its geographic expansion across different countries. Over the last year, AWS has stepped up its operations in a big way to counter the threat from companies like Microsoft and Google. And these investments are paying off.

At this point though, it’s difficult to say how much better AWS is when compared to Google and Microsoft. This is because Amazon is the only company that discloses the revenue and performance of its cloud business separately while the other two club it in a bucket called “other revenue.” So, it’s hard to say how much contribution came from the cloud business in this bucket, so a comparison becomes difficult.

One good way to ascertain performance is through market share, even if it’s not an accurate one. By this parameter, Amazon gained a one percent market share over the last four quarters.  This makes it a dominant player in the cloud market, though Microsoft and Google are fast catching up. During this same period, Microsoft’s market share increased by three percent while Google and IBM stayed steady at one percent increase.

Nevertheless, this is another excellent performance by AWS as it dominated the cloud market with a market share of 40 percent. This company alone has generated $1.2 billion in revenue over the last four quarters and this trend is expected to continue as more companies, especially in the developing world, adopt cloud over the rest of 2017 and in years ago.

Since AWS has established its infrastructure and presence in all growing economies, either by itself or through collaboration, it’s in the driver’s seat to make the most of cloud adoption across these countries.

All this is good news for investors as the share prices moved up after the results were announced. In fact, this rise in share price put Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, as the richest man in the world. However, the position went back to Bill Gates when Amazon’s shares stabilized over the next few days.

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Circumventing the Great Firewall Just Got Tougher

China’s massive Internet blocks and filters, often called as the great Firewall, ensures that only selected websites and content are made available to Chinese users. Many popular sites such as Facebook and YouTube don’t go through these blocks.

All these years, many VPN services and apps helped the Chinese to circumvent this great firewall, so they could watch their favorite content. Now, it looks like that may not be possible anymore as the Chinese government is tightening controls around the use of these apps.

Last week, Apple removed all the anti-censorship tools such as VPNs to comply with the order from the Chinese government. ExpressVPN, one of the most popular VPN apps termed this move as surprising and unfortunate, in an interview with The New York Times.

Now, Amazon is also following Apple’s footsteps. Beijing Sinnet Technology, the operator of Amazon’s cloud computing and online business in China announced that its Chinese customers that no longer have access to tools that circumvent the great firewall. It sent the first round of emails in this regard on Friday and another follow-up email will be sent on Monday, a spokeswoman of the company said.

So, what happens if users don’t comply with these rules? Well, they will no longer get the services offered by Amazon and if they’ve hosted their websites on AWS, then it will be shut down as well.

These measures were taken after Beijing Sinnet got a guidance from China’s Ministry of Public Security, which is also the regulator of Chinese telecom sector.

This move can be seen as a larger ploy by the Chinese government to force America’s biggest tech companies to follow the Chinese rules, if they want to continue offering service to China’s customers. Obviously, these companies would comply because the Chinese market is too huge to be missed.

In fact, it’s not just American companies, but also a few Chinese companies that have been affected by this order. Recently, the government shut down many Chinese-run VPN services to ensure that the great firewall is never breached by anyone within China.

With these steps by Apple and Amazon, the Chinese may never be able to break through these Internet blocks and access the websites that have been banned by the Chinese government.

If you’re wondering what could be the reason for such massive blocks, it’s mostly political. The Chinese government doesn’t want anyone to oppose the Communist way of life and the practices of the national government. So, it believes censorship is a good way to decide what content should be accessed by its residents.

To top it, the Chinese government has been describing its internet sovereignty as a role model for other countries to follow, from a business perspective because even if it’s bad for human rights, it’s been a boon for Chinese businesses.

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What’s Going On Between Amazon and Walmart?

Amazon has built a huge empire over the last decade. It started off as an online retailer of books and since then, has slowly and steadily built its business. Today, it is the online retailer that many people visit when they have to buy anything from pins to phones and everything in between. All this makes Amazon the biggest online retailer in the world.

Now, Amazon is furthering its ambitions by entering into the brick and mortar world of retail with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion. In addition, it has signed into an agreement with Nike to sell its shows directly on its website.

Amazon even plans to introduce a service called Prime Wardrobe under which customers can order and try clothes of different brands for a period of seven days before deciding whether they should buy or not. Such services are likely to change the face of retailing as it’s more customer-centric than before.

And this is the beginning of its clash with Walmart.

Walmart has been the largest retailer in the world and has dominated this market for many decades, even long before computers and the Internet came into being. With the entry of Amazon, there is a clear threat for Walmart because both these companies will compete in the same space over the coming years, at least that’s how it looks like now.

As long as Amazon was being the king in the digital space, Walmart had no problems because it was the king in the realm of physical shopping. But with Amazon entering this space, that comfort has clearly been breached.

Though Amazon has not given any kind of plan about what it’s going to do with this acquisition and how it will benefit its customers, it has definitely kick started a retail war.

Walmart, on its part, is putting pressure on Amazon to stay away. However, how Walmart is putting the pressure is what is making the whole process irksome. Instead of a direct clash, Walmart is pushing its vendors to move away from Amazon Cloud Services and opt for the services of companies like Microsoft and Google. With Walmart leading the way, other companies such as Target are also exerting pressure on their respective IT vendors to move their operations away from Amazon cloud.

Little wonder that Amazon is reacting strongly and is accusing Walmart and other large retailers of bullying.

Is it working?

Apparently not as many vendors are persuading Walmart and refuse to abide by its d\irection of changing cloud providers. But that’s not going to last forever because Walmart can simply outsource its IT operations to a company that stores data on Azure or Google Cloud Platform.

As customers, we can expect the war to get dirtier before subsiding. But eventually, we may the winners if Amazon sets up large stores like Walmart, as we can get the best value for our company through intense competition from retailers.

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AWS Announces the Winners of “City on a Cloud”

Amazon Web Services (AWS) today announced the winners of its “City on a Cloud” innovation challenge. There were many categories and prizes announced for the winners.

This “City on a Cloud” is an annual challenge open for governments at all levels to see how best they use AWS’ services to improve the lives of people. many categories, including innovation, small cities, big cities, ideas, and more are awarded.

This year, Louisville won the most prominent award, which is the “Dream Big” category. It was given this award for its implementation of machine learning and IoT systems to build an efficient traffic flow management that can adapt the local infrastructure to mitigate the problems that come with traffic congestion.

Another city that made it to the top award is Seattle. Known for its efficient planning and liberal use of technology, this city was awarded for its Open Data 2017. Under this plan, the city has identified five priority areas, the information for which will be available in real-time in the city’s portal. It’s new web design has increased awareness and it is estimated that the new site has 25 percent more users than the old one.

This portal displays relevant data sets to the public, who can use it for their own analysis, and maybe even come up with systems that’ll improve the overall quality of life in the city.

Boston has also started a similar initiative and calls it “Analyze Boston.”

One of the significant developments that was explained during the “City on a Cloud” awards function is that 12 cities have joined together to use technology to combat climate change. Given President Trump’s stance on this issue and his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, this is an important move that’s essential to fight the real problems of environmental degradation.

These cities are posting information from US EPA on their site, before the website is taken down completely. In fact, Chicago has emerged as the leader in this area with its “City of Chicago Climate Change is Real” portal. In this site, Chicago talks about the real dangers of climate change, tons of data on this and the possible steps that each citizen can take to protect their world. It gives clear actionable steps that can be implemented individually and collectively.

The other cities in this effort are Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Louisville, Milwaukee, Houston, Philadelphia, Boston, Portland, Fayetteville in Arkansas and Evanston in Illinois.

City of Virginia Beach is another recipient of this award for its efforts to protect coastal flooding that occurs from storm surges and tides. A unique aspect of StormSense, a IoT-based app developed for predicting and managing flooding, is that it can be replicated across all coastal cities.

It is heartening to see these developments, especially the efforts taken by different cities to tap into the power of technology to improve the overall quality of life for its residents. Let’s hope that there more such “City in a Cloud” awards that enthuse more local governments to work for the welfare of their residents.

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