Trending: Instead of a real check on the growing power of Amazon Web Services, Oracle’s Larry Ellison offers nothing but words

Amazon Web Services will attempt to set the cloud-computing agenda for 2019 this week over four days of keynote speeches and technical presentations that will showcase the breadth of the market leader’s cloud services.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a short one for AWS employees, who are already in Las Vegas preparing for this week’s re:Invent 2018 conference. In past years the company has directed a firehose of announcements at attendees involving new services, improvements to existing ones, and customer testimonials, and this year likely won’t be any different.

Last year AWS made its most significant announcements in two very important segments of the modern cloud computing market: artificial intelligence and containers. The company introduced its controversial Amazon Rekcognition video-analysis service alongside its SageMaker managed machine-learning service as well as AWS Fargate, which allows customers to manage containers without having to deal with the underlying infrastructure.

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, addresses the crowd at AWS re:Invent 2017. (GeekWire Photo / Tom Krazit)

So what can we expect AWS to focus on this week? The company will make announcements that cross nearly every aspect of its broad array of cloud services, but here are a few areas that are likely to emerge as key themes for the week.

  • Serverless: While Fargate falls into this category, last year AWS talked about serverless computing — in which customers run cloud services without having to deal with anything related to the hardware beneath those services — in a more forward-thinking way during the late-week keynote delivered by Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. AWS has a huge advantage in this area compared to cloud rivals like Microsoft and Google, and expect to see some improvements to its core Lambda service that expand how this technology can be used at scale.
  • Databases: Companies that are moving to the cloud for the first time, or increasing the amount of applications they are running in the cloud, need reassurances that their data will be protected and easily accessible. AWS already offers an array of database options, and improvements or new database services seem like a solid bet for CEO Andy Jassy’s keynote, along with a few shots at Oracle’s Larry Ellison.
  • Open source: Speaking of databases, The Information reported last week that AWS is working on a managed version of the open-source MongoDB database but it’s not clear if that service will be ready for re:Invent after MongoDB changed the licensing terms for that database earlier this year. Still, expect to hear more about AWS and open source as the cloud leader works to bolster its image with open-source developers who remain wary that the company is taking more from their work that it is giving back.
  • Customers: We’ll definitely see several awkward on-stage conversations between AWS executives and leaders of some of its newer customers, with plenty of praise for each other’s innovative work. An interesting thing to watch during these customer announcements is whether or not those customers are going “all-in” with AWS and embracing the public cloud for all of their workloads, or selecting AWS as their “preferred cloud provider,” which implies they want to pursue a multicloud or hybrid cloud strategy.
  • Traffic: AWS re:Invent is now sprawled across seven different venues alongside The Strip, a Bizzaro-World version of the urban campus that Amazon has constructed in Seattle. While the main action is at the Venetian, hundreds of technical sessions for the more than 40,000 people expected to visit the desert this week will test the patience of developers hoping to make it to their preferred sessions in time.

We’ll have coverage of all the main events this week during re:Invent 2018, as well as interviews with key industry leaders making the journey to what has become a must-attend event for the cloud and enterprise computing world.

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