In recent years thanks to start-up businesses like Airbnb and Deliveroo who use AWS to save the hassle of running their own IT infrastructure, more established firms have also adopted the method making AWS the main income for Amazon.
In the most recent quarter, AWS supplied 70% of Amazon’s profits.
However, despite the evident success AWS faces serious competition and government issues.
Tensions with the government rose in October when the US awarded a $10bn contract for the Department of Defence to rival Microsoft.
This came as a surprise as AWS expected to win the Joint Enterprises Infrastructure (Jedi) project. The decision is being challenged as Amazon claims there has been interference from the White House.
AWS explained why it was challenging the decision in a document released in December. The document stated
The question is whether the president of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,
DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand, and impossible to assess separate and apart from the president’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the president himself, ‘screw Amazon’.
Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS has remarked that the decision to award the contract to Microsoft is dangerous as Amazon had “the best possible technology infrastructure platform” Jassy also went on to say that it’s a “very dangerous” precedent if the US government would not base decisions on “objective values”
It appears that Amazon’s future relationship with the government will not improve as US President Trump has been open about his dislike of Amazon. This is mainly due to the fact that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon also owns and controls the Washington Post newspaper that Trump considers hostile towards him.
Amazon also faces further challenges with government agencies as it is under a number of investigations questioning whether the company is acting in an anti-competitive way.
Reports have arisen that the FTC is investigating discrimination against companies who work with other cloud providers, prioritising those who work with AWS.
Amazon also faces questioning over facial recognition technology called Rekognition with civil rights campaigners calling it “perhaps the most dangerous surveillance technology ever developed“.
Jassy states that confusion on the subject is caused by lack of regulation at a federal government level. Commenting:
If you don’t have a federal government actually regulating something that people are debating, then you end up with 50 different rules in 50 different states and even more potential in municipalities.
He went on to comment on the benefits of facial recognition,
It has reunited missing kids with their parents, it’s found human trafficking, it’s improved security and identity, there are all kinds of ways that it is adding real value to society.
According to Jassy in the three years of using facial recognition technology, it has had zero reports of misuse by law enforcement agencies. He stated:
We provide free training for law enforcement on how to use facial recognition technology, and if we find we have any kind of reported misuse, which we haven’t had yet, we would suspend their ability not just to use the service but also the platform,
But I can understand why people may want stronger assurances that it can’t happen. I think that the government should regulate it and give more guidance.
It is clear that Amazons AWS is massively successful however AWS may face uncertain times ahead with government conflicts and investigations.
Image source by Reuters