AWS = Amazon Web Services
Amazon needs no introduction. The brainchild of Jeff Bezos has grown beyond recognition from just an online bookstore. With annual revenue run rates of $30.8bn in the first quarter of 2019, Amazon earns more than several small countries.
Amazon has achieved this success story with a hard and unwavering focus on the real world application of cutting edge technology in order to provide the best possible customer experience. According to Bezos, this level of focus on the customer is achieved using;“high-performance transactions systems, complex rendering and object caching, workflow and queuing systems, business intelligence and data analytics, machine learning and pattern recognition, neural networks and probabilistic decision making, and a wide variety of other techniques.” 2010 Annual Report (Amazon, 2011)
Of the traditional technology giants (IBM, Microsoft, Google), Amazon has pulled itself into the forefront of cloud computing, and this is reflected in its dominating position for market share of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS).
For Agent3, the recent AWS summit at the Excel Centre gave us the perfect opportunity to explore options in AWS and investigate the potential for bringing it into our own work. This summit is just one of many that Amazon runs around the world and it allows them to bring together key account holders from their biggest clients in AWS for an exploratory and knowledge sharing day of keynote speeches and presentations.
Thoughts on the day
After the traditional issues with London transport, we were able to make it to the venue with only minutes to spare! After a rushed registration, we made our way to the Keynote speech.
Presented by the Director of Business Development of the EMEA of Amazon (Darren Mowry) and the VP of the AWS Compute Services (Matt Garman), it was clear that Amazon highly values the UK market. The keynote kicked off with a run down of the performance over the last year. This was an opportunity for Amazon to highlight some of the impressive activity and work being performed with AWS.
With guest representatives from a number of well known UK organisations, this was a hugely illuminating and informative event. Organisations as diverse as The Department of Justice (Tom Read), through to Sainsbury’s supermarket all shared their experiences implementing large scale and drastic infrastructure migrations to the cloud.
Sainsbury’s in particularly presented on their difficulties on migrating from a monolithic and archaic self hosted web solution to making full use of the AWS stack. The migration to the cloud has allowed Sainsbury’s to remain competitive in the marketplace and this has reduced infrastructure expenditure by 30%, whilst simultaneously improving performance by 70-80%.
A highlight of the keynote for myself was the discussion of the ethics of AI. The speaker Dr Angie Ma, is the founder of Faculty who are focused on providing explainability to the often blackbox models provided by current machine learning methods. As the applications of machine learning grow and increasingly more models are deployed into production it is clear that these algorithms will be playing a key role in the future.
The recent fiasco with Google’s auto-tagging algorithm is just one high profile example of the many occasions where Machine Learning has failed spectacularly. As the algorithms become more complex and integrated into our daily life, the consequences of failure/poorly designed systems will be more impactful than just reputational damage.
Stay Tuned for next week when we will be looking into some of the sessions in more depth!