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Amazon accused of knocking off AWS customers' products

Partners: Cloud kingpin playing the copycat game

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Some AWS partners get a raw deal

Amazon has a duty to make money for its shareholders, so its expansion into other areas is not surprising. But from The Reg's point of view, some of Amazon's technology partners are getting a raw deal.

For one thing, partners do not receive notifications of Amazon's plans to create knock-offs of their own products, The Reg has learned.

In addition, even after producing a knock-off, Amazon representatives pump their partners for information about how they can improve the product, we've been told.

"After sharing with them twice what we do and seeing what we showed them show up totally copied by them, I think this time I will respectfully pass on the pleasure," Newvem's Laderman told us via email after he had received another request for information from Amazon following the launch of Trusted Advisor.

When Amazon started offering rentable compute and storage services in 2006, it was clear that Bezos had big plans for the division. But as it has come to dominate the basic infrastructure-as-a-service market, the company has sought to expand its platform with new services.

This had led to a Cambrian explosion in the number of companies that either sit directly on AWS – Heroku, for example – or that produce services made possible by AWS technologies – such as Zencoder.

This growth has provided Amazon with the twin benefits of locking customers into its platform by encouraging them to code applications for some of AWS's less-commoditized technologies, and of giving Bezos & Co. a verdant third-party ecosystem to pick through for inspiration for future AWS services.

"Amazon wants to get you and any other cloud vendor to couple to their infrastructure," Concurrent's Wensel tells us.

Just how high up the stack Amazon will go remains to be seen, but right now its partners are nervous, and some of them feel that they are paying for the privilege of having their products inspire new AWS services.

"The official AWS line is that they don't want be any higher up the stack than they already are. But this line has moved in the past, and it may move in the future," Zencoder's Dahl says. "Anyone building API utilities needs to take this into account."

When The Register contacted Amazon for a statement, a spokeswoman for the Seattle cloud giant wrote:

We want to give our customers a lot of options for how they deploy and build their applications, from both AWS services and our growing partner ecosystem. ... Customers should be able to choose the right solution for them based on their business and technical requirements. We're constantly building new AWS services and adding new features that make it easier for businesses to use our services. At the same time, we continue to invest in growing our partner eco-system, so ultimately customers have choice and flexibility in how they build and deploy their applications on AWS.

If you read between the lines of the statement, it sounds like Amazon will keep building, and partners will need to keep running up the stack away from the wave of commoditization flowing forth from Amazon. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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