A peek inside Amazon Web Services

Posted by Mike Vizard on Dec 8, 2014 8:46:00 AM

While just about everyone recognizes Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a force to be reckoned with in the cloud, there’s not much actual visibility into what is actually running on AWS.

15633507168_6ec119573c_oTo solve that bit of a mystery 2nd Watch, a provider of managed services that specializes in AWS, recently ran an analysis of the tens of thousands of AWS instances it has under management. Of all the types of EC2 instances running it may not come as a surprise that 38 percent of the EC2 instances are of the small variety, while another 19 percent are using a medium instance. In addition, 2nd Watch says a full 94 percent of its customers are also using the S3 cloud storage service from AWS.

Obviously, AWS is on a campaign to get existing customers to consume more resources, which is one reason it just moved to cut the price of reserved EC2 instances for customers that commit to paying up front for services.

But what may be most striking is how dominant Linux is on AWS compared to Windows. A full 74 percent of the operating systems on AWS are a version of Linux versus only 26 percent for Windows. A big reason for that, of course, is that that analyis from 2nd Watch makes it clear it costs singificantly less to deploy Linux in the cloud than Windows.

That skew might also account for why the top products and services that 2nd Watch sees being deployed on AWS. The top five products being used in the AWS marketplace, according to 2nd Watch are:

  • NGINX Plus - Amazon Linux AMI
  • Vyatta Virtual Router/Firewall/VPN
  • SoftNAS Cloud - High-Performance Cloud NAS (PV/20TB)
  • Cisco Cloud Services Router (CSR) 1000V - Advanced Technology Package
  • Sophos UTM 9

When that data is coupled with another study from Skyhigh Networks, a provider of cloud monitoring and management software, it confirms that AWS is also the top cloud service provider for the enterprise by a wide margin, and it would suggest that much of the movement to the cloud is currently being driven by advocates of open source software.

Naturally, Microsoft has been playing catch up with AWS for a while now. But all that Linux activity in the cloud might also account for why Microsoft is going to so much trouble to position its Azure cloud platform as an environment that hosts both Linux and Windows.

Of course, what is not clear is what’s driving the deployment of Linux instances on AWS. Are they mostly net new workloads that previous didn’t exist or are they workloads that are replacing an application that previously ran on premise?

And just to make matters more interesting, Microsoft has an installed base of 20 to 30 million instances of Microsoft Windows Server 2003 that is trying to get customers to upgrade by the middle of next year. While many of those workloads may continue to run on premise using Window Server 2012, Microsoft also expects a fair number of those workloads to shift to Azure. Of course, those workloads might shift to other cloud platforms, including AWS, and, for that matter, they might even wind up on Linux, rather than Windows, in any number of clouds.

Obviously, in terms of Windows workloads billions of dollars in revenue is now at stake, the balance of which is most likely going to be tipped one way or another by the influence of IT service providers in 2015.

Photo Credit: Telemart-Online shopping on Flikr. Used under CC 2.0 license

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Topics: Cloud Trends

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