Amazon CTO: The cloud is about much more than servers

Amazon Chief Technology Officer Werner Vogels delivered a speech on “The State of the Cloud” this morning in San Francisco, where he looked at the cloud computing industry’s recent past, as well as its future.

Speaking at GigaOm’s Structure conference, Vogels said one of the big trends in 2009 was the rise of cloud computing myths. It’s typical for existing companies to spread “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” when they’re threatened by upstart businesses, and he offered this list of the biggest myths about the cloud:

  • The cloud is not reliable.
  • The cloud is not secure.
  • In the cloud, cost is all that matters.
  • The cloud is all or nothing.
  • The cloud locks you in.

The overriding myth, Vogels said, is the rise of “private cloud” technologies applying some elements of cloud infrastructure to traditional data centers. Bringing more virtualization and automation into existing infrastructure is a good thing, he said. Borrowing a phrase from Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff, Vogels said that a private cloud is a “false cloud” that doesn’t bring the full benefits of running your applications on public cloud infrastructure … like, say, Amazon’s.

Looking into the future, Vogels said one of the big trends that he sees goes beyond all the catchphrases you may have heard, like software-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service — it’s “innovation-as-a-service.” These are rich cloud tools that are accessible to consumers, not just IT professionals. He ran through a list of examples, including media-sharing service Drop.io, location service SimpleGeo, and voice service Twilio.

“The point I want to make is we’ll see a whole range of new consumer IT applications as well as enterprise IT applications that will use all of these high-level services,” Vogels said. That will move cloud computing far beyond the realm of servers, he added — it’s “a given” that servers will run in the cloud, but “if we’re talking about clouds, we’re going to be talking about these kinds of services.”