Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of online retail giant Amazon, expects the opening of a cluster of data centres in Bahrain to bring in new cloud customers from the Middle East and North Africa region.
Werner Vogels, Chief Technology Officer at Amazon.com – speaking at the AWS Summit in Dubai – said that cloud is accelerating innovation in businesses, including startups, small- and medium-sized enterprises and multinationals.
AWS is opening three or more data centres – also known as availability zones – in Bahrain, which will be completely isolated from each other and will be equipped with different power sources and networks to withstand any failures of each other.
The biggest cloud services provider, after Microsoft Azure, Alibaba and Oracle, also has two data centres in the UAE — DataMena and Smart Hub — as nodes, and has been operational since August last year. Oracle opened its Abu Dhabi data centre in February and Microsoft is set to open one data centre each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi soon.
Vogels said the advantage of moving to the cloud is that customers can scale up or down the cloud capacity as required without incurring additional costs.
“Most of the customers here don’t have more than one data centres and now they will have three different availability zones from AWS. They [customers] can build highly-available applications which normally, they will never be able to,” Vogels said.
AWS is planning to open four more data centres globally in Milan, Cape Town, Hong Kong and Jakarta in the next couple of years.
“We have seen which customers are successful and which architectures are successful. So, we created a framework that is over five different pillars – liability, scale, performance, cost management and security.”
When asked how different AWS is when compared to Azure, Alibaba and Oracle, he said that AWS has the breadth and depth of the platform.
“Some of our rivals are old IT companies who are frustrated by the fact that the arrival of the cloud has taken away 80 per cent margins of their business. They are now trying to make up for that and trying to be AWS but they are not,’” he said. “Amazon is an e-commerce company, and when we built AWS, it was based on a customer-centric approach, but other cloud providers take control of customers.”
Moreover, he said that 95 per cent of the features and services in the last three years are based on feedback from customers.
“We have lowered our prices 71 times in the last 15 years and I don’t think any other IT company has done it. We are successful only when our customers are successful,” commented Vogels.
AWS is also said to be making major investments in the region, not only in sales or account management but also placing major emphasis on technical support. With the digital transformation taking place in the region, cloud skills will be top of the list for every possible entity.
“We are investing here with AWS Educate, with universities and also bringing cloud skills to entrepreneurs here,” he said.
Meanwhile, AWS has added Arabic as a text-to-speech language to its AI service Polly on Wednesday, which offers a more natural-sounding selection of voices in both male and female iterations. In Arabic, it is a female voice known as “Zeina”. The service is available as a pay-as-you-go model and offers 50 voices across dozens of languages and can be used for call centres, banks, and e-learning, with local customers such as Emirates NBD and duoLingo using Polly in Arabic.