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AWS Simple Storage Service Hits 10-Year Mark

It's been 10 years since Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) launched its Simple Storage Service (S3), ushering in a new era in enterprise IT.

The S3 launch on March 14, 2006 was a significant milestone for cloud computing. At the time, few IT professionals were anticipating the shift in computing that was about to take place. As AWS saw it, storage and compute should have no limits in capacity and scalability, and should be accessible at much lower costs. "Amazon S3 is based on the idea that quality Internet-based storage should be taken for granted," said Andy Jassy, AWS vice president, in the press release announcing S3's general availability.

In the decade since its launch, AWS claims S3 hosts trillions of objects and, at peaks, processes millions of requests per second. The price for storage when AWS launched S3 was $0.15 per GB stored and $0.20 per GB for data transferred. Now, S3 storage costs 80 percent less, at $0.03 per GB per month, while AWS' Glacier archival storage is available for less than a penny per month.

AWS is marking S3's 10-year anniversary by spotlighting some milestones, such as the launch of the AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offering five months after the launch of S3, the AWS Management Console in January 2009, the Relational Database Service (RDS) service later that year, and the AWS Marketplace in April 2012, which allowed for the purchase of preconfigured tools and applications. As of now, the AWS Marketplace is divided into 35 categories with more than 2,500 software offerings from upwards of 800 ISVs.

Last April, Amazon broke out the revenues and earnings for AWS for the first time, claiming it was a $5 billion business. Although there are thousands of cloud providers throughout the world offering services of all types and scope, AWS still is the largest and leading cloud provider, with Microsoft Azure at No. 2 and Google -- the only other player that can rival the infrastructure the other two now offer -- at No. 3.

Nevertheless, AWS maintains that edge and S3 is a key part of that. "At this point, it's the widest, most-used service, even in companies where a lot of people aren't aware they're using it just because it's such a simple, obvious place to use the cloud," said Michael Fauscette, chief research officer at G2 Crowd, a market research firm.

A recent survey conducted by G2 found a higher customer satisfaction rating with S3 than Azure, AWS' closest rival among enterprise customers. Customer satisfaction of S3 was 96 percent and EC2 91 percent, while Azure as a whole scored 83 percent, according to the survey.

S3 reviewers said the product's price and availability were the key reasons for using the service, according to the report. Respondents said their primary use of S3 is for hosting static Web pages, storing backup data, and syncing or sharing data across multiple locations. Those who favored Azure (the entire service, not just storage) said compatibility with Microsoft software, scalability, the availability of support, networking options, and the ease of configuration and management were primary benefits of the offering.

AWS customers ranked S3 highest for availability, scalability and its overall data storage architecture, while the biggest issues they have with the offering are user management, configuration management and logging, according to the report. For Azure, customers gave it the highest marks for high availability, scalability and integration with Microsoft's Visual Studio development platform, while the biggest complaints were with user and configuration management and Docker integration.

Fauscette acknowledged the differences in the way customers procure cloud services from the two companies. "When you're using AWS, you're making a specific decision around a specific offering like storage, but with Microsoft you may not be making that explicit decision because you may have decided to buy the entire platform," he said. "It may simply be an awareness issue."

Naturally, it also depends on who is surveyed and by what measure. AWS and Microsoft were the only companies named by Gartner last year as leaders in its Magic Quadrant ranking, which said that AWS' infrastructure services has a multi-year advantage over Azure. However, a technical comparison of Azure Blog Storage and S3 by storage service provider Nasuni gave Microsoft's offering the edge.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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