AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Complexity or Choice?

Amazon Web Services launched 1,430 new features and services in 2017, 1,017 in 2016, and 722 in 2015. One of the key benefits of adopting a cloud platform like AWS is its ability to help businesses keep up with the increasing pace of innovation. But, while the launch of new features and services is cause for customer celebration, sometimes it is met with exasperation or concern: concern around whether the 120+ services in addition to the on-going pace of innovation creates too much complexity and choice overload.

I am completely sympathetic to this challenge. As an employee of AWS, even I struggle to keep on top of all of our service announcements. However, in light of these challenges I try to employ a mental model, which I like to share with customers, that puts things into a slightly different perspective. Remember this: Every era of human progress has been marked by the materials and technologies that shaped the way humanity lived, worked, and built. From the stone age, where humanity first began to work with tools, to the information age, which brought us computing, databases, and the internet, each introduction of materials and technologies propelled us forward and transformed the world. The question today is, in this new digital age what are the materials and technologies that will propel us into the next age? Social media? Mobile technologies? While these have both been transformational technologies, are they the defining materials of the digital age?

I recently sat in a coffee shop and tried identifying which materials were used to help create the comfy rustic atmosphere of the physical space. I counted literally hundreds of different materials and parts. I couldn’t even name what all the parts were. I later went to an industrial supply website and looked up dry wall screws. I found over 140 different variations for just that one product.

Perhaps, like me, the first time you stepped into a big box home improvement store you found yourself overwhelmed by all the choices of materials available to fix a simple towel holder in your bathroom. Over time, after visiting the store again and again, you began to know exactly what to buy and where in the store to find it. In fact, you even found that this store of choices didn’thave the one variant or size that perfectly fit the needs of a recent project. Even with all this choice, there are still gaps.

AWS cloud provides the new digital services and materials that help today’s businesses keep pace with innovation. One could even say AWS is like an industrial supply store for the digital age, full of the variety of services you need now and may need in the future.

To build always on, always accessible, products, services, and businesses, you need scalable servers, databases, and infrastructure that don’t break the bank without pre-buying capacity. But what about the services of the future that require artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities? Why not provide on the fly translation into local languages to make content more accessible? How about providing a voice interface to your services? These are just a few examples of new capabilities that every company can tap into and use right away in AWS.

My question is: is 120+ services too many or far too few? Or the 3000+ products in the AWS Marketplace? I think we’re just scratching the surface of the digital tools and materials that we will need to build for the future. I hope we see that we are still in the early days of what AWS can provide to digital builders. Don’t forget, it’s still Day 1.

Never stop innovating,


Joe Chung

Joe Chung

Joe joined AWS as Enterprise Strategist & Evangelist in November 2016. In this role, Joe works with enterprise technology executives to share experiences and strategies for how the cloud can help them increase speed and agility while devoting more of their resources to their customers. Joe earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He also earned his master's in business administration from Kellogg's Management School of Business at Northwestern University.