Amazon adjusts cloud strategy as Google and Microsoft rivalry heats up

New Amazon cloud chief Adam Selipsky plans to tailor more products to specific sectors such as the healthcare, automotive and telecommunications industries, a shift for a business that once focused on broader solutions that can be used by most customers.

“The world around us is changing so much that we’re going to have to be different,” Selipsky told Bloomberg Television. “It doesn’t matter what we did yesterday.”

To a certain extent, Amazon Web Services is taking a page from rivals Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which have been rolling out cloud packages designed for certain sectors. Microsoft, for example, offers targeted clouds to the healthcare, retail and space industries.

Selipsky’s predecessor Andy Jassy, now CEO of parent company Inc., typically avoided doing special or one-off products, even when customers asked for it. Jassy resisted tailoring cloud services to the unique requirements of governments, although he eventually relented.

AWS is by far the leader in the business of providing rented computing infrastructure, and serves companies in virtually every industry.

But Selipsky said customers are demanding various new products and focuses, including sector-specific offerings, “which we’re starting to do now for industries like financial services and telco and healthcare and automotive. And we’re doing really exciting things for all of those industries and more.”

The strategy isn’t without challenges. A shift to tailored products risks spreading efforts too thin or slicing the company’s strategy too finely.

Already some executives and workers say they’re leaving for startups and new areas because they say it’s becoming harder to do broad, enterprising work at AWS. Still, cloud software applications sold as a service are highly profitable for companies like Microsoft, more so than the infrastructure services where Amazon still dominates.

Jassy’s Right Hand

Selipsky was tapped as AWS chief in March after Jassy was picked to replace founder Jeff Bezos as CEO of all of Amazon. Selipsky spent five years at the helm of Tableau, guiding the Seattle company through a reboot of its data visualization software business and $15.3 billion sale to in 2019.

Before joining Tableau, Selipsky was Jassy’s right hand at AWS, serving in a chief operating officer-like role that saw him overseeing the unit’s sales, marketing, technical support and customer service. He joined the company in 2005.

Asked whether Amazon needs to focus more on office productivity apps, like Microsoft’s cloud-based Office or Google’s Workspace, Selipsky said AWS still has the “broadest and the deepest set of cloud services” but that it’s important for the cloud giant to build more applications.

“It might be marketing, it might be human resources,” he said, citing Amazon Connect,  a call-center program that demonstrates the company’s ability to build specific applications on top of general-purpose cloud services.

In other cases, Amazon will leave the more granular products to partners to build, he said. Either way, he acknowledged that AWS must avoid getting too comfortable.

“It’s really important to continue to act as if we’re insurgents and not to start to act like incumbents,” Selipsky said.

Now read: Microsoft cloud a hit

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Amazon adjusts cloud strategy as Google and Microsoft rivalry heats up