Thursday, November 23, 2017

‘Security is not a line in the sand,’ it’s an evolving cloud superpower, Amazon CTO Dr. Werner Vogels tells the AWS Summit

The cloud has not one, two or three, but seven superpowers and AWS thinks it has nailed them all.

Recent cyber threats have brought back to the top of the agenda much concern around enterprises’ security strategies, in and beyond the cloud.

Wannacry and Petya are just two of the most recent examples that have sparked chaos around the world, with government IT, airports, nuclear power plants and thousands of enterprise computers hit hard.

In the cloud space, security is a “superpower” that sometimes is built as an afterthought, which is the wrong way to do it, according to Amazon’s CTO Dr. Werner Vogels.

“Protecting your business, customers, citizens’ data, should be always your number one priority,” he told an audience of 6,000 at the AWS Summit in London.

Werner’s presentation at the event was based around different superpowers, which the company believes makes it unique and helped to deliver the $14bn revenues it reported in its Q1 2017.

“We build our systems in such a way, with so much freedom, that you can build the way you want to build. AWS gives you superpowers,” Vogels said. “Cloud is dramatically changing the way we are operating and building software.”

Security, part of the “force field” superpower, “the most important”, was the one that received most attention from the CTO.

He said: “Security is not a line in the sand that says this is good enough. It is a continued building line, and at AWS we try to stay ahead of the line.

“We can only try to protect our customers in ways we never protected them before. We had financial customers moving to AWS because of our security that no one else can offer.

“The days of firewalls being good enough security are gone.”


Four phases of security-building

Vogels continued to talk about the four phases of security development. First, companies need to understand what are the security requirements their deployment will need in order to safeguard the data.

This is followed by the need to actually build the secure environment. Thirdly, businesses must enforce the use of templates.

“Create templates to be sure that it is the way you want to run our system and these are compliant with your requirements,” he said.

Lastly, companies should perform validation activities to test the whole system and ensure security has been built accordingly.

For those building the applications, AWS has put out to the market a range of cloud security tools around networking, identity, compliance and encryption. The last one being of upmost importance, according to Vogels.

“We give you the tools to do that, use them,” he told the industry.


From security to infinity and beyond

After spending most of his keynote time on security, Vogels went on to talk about the other superpowers of AWS.

Security was followed by “supersonic speed”. However, this speed “is not just about getting thousands of servers, it is not just about compute capacity and accessing it fast”.

“It is about having access to several services, several tools. There are today over 90 services part of AWS. The days AWS was just computer storage are long gone.”

Moving on to the third power, Vogels spoke of the ability to be “invisible”, touching upon the serverless computing idea.

Serverless computing allows developers to work on their applications without having to worry about servers and their maintenance, freeing up time and reducing running costs, ultimately accelerating time to market.

The fourth power is the ability to “fly”, and flying here simply refers to the user being able to move between databases and migrate their workloads when and to wherever they want.

“We have migrated more than 28,000 databases from on-premise to the cloud,” the executive said.

Superpower number five is “X-Ray vision”, aka, the ability to carry out data analytics.

“You want to have vision of what happens in the cloud. The quality of the data you have, the questions you ask the data, that is going to change your business. Doing analytics is extremely important for the future of your business.”

Moving on to the sixth power, “precognition”, Vogels spoke of the opportunity to make predictions and the opportunity of knowing what is coming next with the use of AI.

“The challenge for AI is scale. AWS is the centre of gravity for AI. We have been doing this for 20 years. Thousands of Amazon engineers are focused on AI.”

He mentioned Netflix, which has been using AWS systems to run its applications. “75% of movies on Netflix are watched based on recommendations.

“If 75% of the business is run on recommendations, it becomes extremely important for the business.”

Moving on to the last and seventh superpower, the CTO spoke of “immortality”.

“The only way to make your business immortal is to align yourself with customers.

“We do not want to just sell to you; that is the old way. We want to make you successful, because if you are successful, we are successful.

“If you stop innovating on AWS, we are out of business in ten to 15 years and that is why we have to continue to innovate.

“Digital transformation is a quest for survival.”