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From NFL to Disney, AWS Notches Major Cloud Deals

Amazon Web Services (AWS) just wrapped up its latest re:Invent conference. As is typical, the event was packed to the gills with announcements of new services and features (go here for a recap of all the news).

Nearly lost in the barrage of product announcements was the raft of high-profile customers that are placing their bets on AWS' platform to power their operations. As AWS and its closest rival, Microsoft Azure, jockey for brag-worthy cloud wins, these additions to AWS' customer portfolio are a shot across the bow of the market at large. Here's a sampling:

The National Football League
Starting next season, the NFL will leverage AWS' machine learning and analytics offerings to power the league's real-time player tracking system called Next Gen Stats. The system uses RFID tags attached to players' uniforms, as well as to the footballs themselves, to mine data like player locations and speed. The data will then get funneled through AWS to generate information that's useful for broadcast announcers, real-time scoreboards and NFL teams themselves.

"The system creates a variety of unique player and team stats for every game such as a receiver's ability to get open and an offensive line's ability to protect the quarterback," according to an announcement.

In addition, the NFL has signed AWS as an "Official Technology Provider," putting AWS in the company of fellow NFL partner Microsoft, whose Surface tablets are used by NFL coaches and referees.

The Walt Disney Company
Building on its existing partnership with AWS, Disney said it's going to move more of its internal production workloads to the AWS cloud.

The two companies have been working together for eight years already as part of Disney's transition to a more cloud-based architecture. Multiple Disney properties, including its movie production studios and theme parks, currently use AWS for business-critical workloads such as those related to machine learning, analytics, productivity and mobile.

"Expanding our strategic relationship with AWS and making AWS our preferred public cloud infrastructure provider aligns with our overall technical strategy," said Charles Weiner, Disney's senior vice president of Enterprise Infrastructure Services, in a prepared statement. "We have had success modernizing our IT operations and transforming the digital presence of our brands using AWS. We look forward to our continued collaboration as we accelerate our Digital Platform migration to the public cloud."

Intuit
Intuit, a provider of financial management and auditing solutions for businesses, is tapping AWS to deliver its machine learning, AI and analytics features for its 46 million customers. It's a potentially broad-reaching initiative, given that Intuit already has 40 discrete machine learning and AI features, with 150 more patent-pending. AWS will also provide the backbone for Intuit's companywide data lake.

According to Intuit CTO H. Tayloe Stansbury, the moves represent a significant extension of Intuit's four-year collaboration with AWS.

"We extended our relationship with AWS to enhance our flagship products and services, including QuickBooks, Mint, and TurboTax, and accelerate our efforts to apply artificial intelligence within our business," Stansbury said in a statement. "For example, we will be leveraging AWS Lex technology in a variety of our work, including future versions of QuickBooks Assistant."

DigitalGlobe
An early customer of the just-released Amazon SageMaker machine learning platform, DigitalGlobe said it's committing to integrating more AWS machine learning capabilities into its portfolio, which centers around delivering high-resolution satellite images to companies in the navigation, defense, environmental analysis and public safety industries.

The company has already migrated its 100-petabyte image library to AWS. To help its customers access the library, DigitalGlobe then built an image-analysis and -delivery platform called Geospatial Big Data on top of AWS.

Now, DigitalGlobe is using SageMaker to "predict what images customers will request next based on their usage patterns and, as a result, intelligently tier its image library, to keep relevant imagery readily accessible in Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and the remainder of its library in AWS’s lower-priced archival service, Amazon Glacier," the company said in its announcement.

Turner
To support its various media distribution and streaming efforts, entertainment giant Turner -- and, by proxy, networks like CNN and TNT, as well as the broadcasting arms of the NCAA and NBA -- is moving "thousands of virtual machines" to AWS and taking advantage of the platform's storage, compute, analytics and machine learning solutions.

The move includes migrating decades' worth of of media content, including 15 petabytes of archival CNN videos, to AWS. Turner also plans to tap AWS machine learning to glean actionable data from its vast content library, so it can "optimize content delivery systems for more personalized viewer experiences, and better inform advertisers, content creators, and media research analysts on viewing trends," the company said in a press release.

According to Turner CTO Jeremy Legg, the AWS collaboration is part of Turner's move toward a "fully digital, cloud environment."

Expedia
Online travel and booking company Expedia has been partnering with AWS since 2013, leveraging the cloud platform to improve the time-to-market for several projects. So far, according to Expedia's announcement, AWS has helped it launch over 4,000 applications with an average release velocity of 2,000 deployments each day.

Most of Expedia's workloads are already on AWS, but the company underscored its partnership last week, saying it's on track to "move its 20 years' worth of core-business workloads, digital properties, mobile applications, and legacy platforms largely from owned datacenters to AWS." The company also plans to move some of its databases from Oracle and SQL Server to Amazon Aurora.

Expedia also said it will increase adoption of AWS machine learning capabilities across its hotel booking and reviewing services.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for RCPmag.com and senior editor of AWSInsider.net.

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