Amazon Web Services, the world's largest cloud provider, has long celebrated its developer roots, but 15 years in the company's tone is shifting to tout connections to business and industry.
AWS is trying to "elevate the approach so that it is more holistic, more industry-based, more business-connected," said Liz Herbert, Forrester VP and principal analyst. The developer features are evolving toward solutions for automotive, airlines, financial services and numerous other industries.
The cloud provider historically peppers the mainstage at re:Invent, its annual cloud celebration taking place in Las Vegas this week, with high-profile customers. This year, business technology leaders at NASDAQ, United Airlines and 3M touted the flexibility and scale offered by AWS solutions.
Each customers' needs were unique, and in each setting, AWS had tailored solutions to deploy at scale.
"Over the past couple of years, we've built abstractions or higher-level services that are even easier and even more accessible for people to consume the cloud and to interact with AWS," said Adam Selipsky, CEO of AWS, who took over this year after Andy Jassy succeeded Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO.
"But despite what feels like massive adoption, we're actually just getting started," Selipsky said, citing analyst estimates that no more than 15% of IT spend is in the cloud.
Cloud providers have built on well over a decade of technology to create more industry-focused solutions, catering to the unique needs of each sector. AWS has taken up this rallying cry, joining other leading providers in making promises and solutions for the buyers facing regulatory, governance, and legacy technology hurdles.
"The other solutions that we're building are built to help solve problems within specific industry verticals," said Selipsky. "Over the past couple of years, we've built abstractions or higher level services that make it even easier and even more accessible for people to consume the cloud and to interact with AWS" across a wide range of industries.
The messaging is a gradual change for AWS — away from a developer-centric approach — as its customer base supports more large enterprises and industries migrate crown jewel-type workloads, according to Dan Ryerson, cloud solutions specialist at AHEAD.
"The shift to more industry cloud is prevalent," said Herbert. "It's happening at every cloud computing and enterprise software company, from SAP to Salesforce to AWS to Microsoft."
Rather than one-off solutions, industry clouds create technology hubs for businesses, with centralized frameworks. IBM was early to the trend with its Bank of America partnership to create tailored solutions for financial services.
IBM's pitch, akin to what other cloud solutions providers are offering, is an understanding of the regulatory environment, data security needs and technology hurdles a given industry contends with.
Airlines, for example, are all trying to improve loyalty solutions, parts tracking, maintenance and crew management. In the same way, with connected cars, companies are collecting similar data — from driving to car sensors. The required technology solutions for each company have similarities across industries, which is aiding the rise of industry clouds, according to Herbert.
Businesses want to use highly customizable technology to solve very specific problems.
What industries are looking for is a familiarity with their concerns, according to Ryerson. Businesses want familiarity with an industry vertical, and there's a certain amount of marketing that's going to lead them in a specific direction.
Movement toward industry specialization
The three largest U.S. cloud providers — AWS, Microsoft and Google — all have industry-focused clouds, a promise that their organization can represent and support a specific vertical's needs.
The trend has spilled over to non-technology companies too. Walmart integrates its technology offerings with Adobe to create digital and technology solutions for other retailers, the company announced this summer.
The value proposition is that vendors that specialize better understand the specific needs of a given customer.
Forrester data depicts industry's rising interest in specialization, Herbert said. The analyst firm hailed the end of the general-purpose cloud in its 2022 predictions, marked by an explosion of industry cloud services from every major provider. The firm expects the trend to scale to SaaS as well, which will "go far beyond marketing veneer to save significant hours of customization."
There's a customer appetite for the shift in vendor messaging. Modern tech companies are doing a good job of highlighting case studies and illustrating how technology can advance business outcomes, according to Herbert.
Forrester is working with a client right now on software selection, and what's resonating with them is seeing someone else solve a problem, rather than looking at features and costs, Herbert said. "They're more focused on outcomes."
Ryerson has seen a change in how customers approach technology too, he said. Clients want advisory and consulting services that are informed by people who know the industry and the technology. It's the application of a breadth of services to specific use cases.
But the focus on industry cloud is not the sole path to adoption, nor is it AWS's exclusive strategy.
AWS uses a flywheel approach, where the cost benefits and scale are powered by the collective and spans industries, Ryerson said. AWS will build services based on customer feedback, but solutions it builds will cater to a broader audience.