Amazon Simplifies Workflow With New Cloud Service


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Amazon Web Services on Wednesday introduced a new service that allows developers to build and move workflow-based applications across cloud-based systems, on-premise systems, or a combination of both.

The service, called Amazon Simple Workflow (SWF), can be used for tasks such as managing cloud infrastructure services, automating business processes for finance or insurance applications, or building sophisticated data analytics applications, Amazon said.

Amazon said the service, which is currently in beta, makes it easier to create applications that are distributed across multiple systems, and to coordinate processing across multiple systems, both of which can be costly and time-consuming.

Amazon said the service allows developers to create the processing steps in distributed applications as “tasks” that manage work in distributed applications, with Amazon SWF coordinating the tasks.

“With Amazon SWF, developers can now easily coordinate distributed application components across on-premise and cloud environments using their choice of programming languages,” Reto Kramer, general manager for Application Connection Services, AWS, said in a statement. “By relying on Amazon SWF to handle the coordination of distributed task execution, developers can now focus on building the differentiating aspects of their applications and leave the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building and managing workflow engines to AWS.”

While cloud solution providers are impressed with Amazon SWF, they're also frustrated that Amazon Web Services hasn't created a channel program to offer such services.

“It’s an interesting service, but Amazon doesn’t really have a channel strategy,” said Tony Safoian, president and CEO of SADA Systems, a North Hollywood, Calif. solution provider offering cloud services. “We focus on Google App Engine and Azure. We have good relationships with Google and Microsoft, but we don’t think Amazon really wants partners.”

Jeremy DeSpain, co-founder and COO of Explore Consulting, of Bellevue, Wash., said his company does participate in Amazon Webstore, a hosted eCommerce Web site solution to build online businesses, but would like to see Amazon create a full-fledged channel program.

“I definitely think there’s a need for an AWS channel program,” DeSpain said. “We’re seeing a tremendous amount of SMB and enterprise customers,” moving to the cloud.”

For business users, Amazon Simple Workflow represents an easier way to operate within an Amazon Web Services environment, said Jeffrey Kaplan, managing director of consulting and analysis firm THINKstrategies.

"What we're talking about is the ability to improve the way organizations manage the services they rely on with AWS because they are able to more easily establish the workflow and continuously manage deploymejnts in an automated fashion, especially in sophisticated applications," Kaplan said. "Amazon understands that more and more customers want to leverage AWS for increasingly critical functions and have more command over the way they utilize those services."

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