AWS Outposts, Snowball: Precursors of AWS Region-as-a-service?

AWS recently unveiled Outposts, a way to deploy on-premises servers that blend seamlessly in AWS cloud, and Snowball, a rugged server with a local EC2 and S3, that can be deployed anywhere on the planet even without connectivity.

Apart from the engineering achievement, what’s interesting with those 2 announcements is that AWS seems to be gearing up for the last, and probably the biggest battle for cloud providers, which is how to deal with really big corporations and potential state entities.

Big corporations and states are yet to massively migrate to the cloud, but have massive IT budgets, ripe for optimizations of all sorts. Problem is, most big cloud providers are US-based, and those providers have to comply with US law, which states that any of those providers can be asked by US law enforcement to transmit any data under their control, or their subsidiaries’s control, wherever this data is located on Earth.

To many non-US large entities, this is simply unacceptable. However, with the growing ability of AWS to provide its capabilities in an offline fashion (that is to say, independently from the public cloud), it looks less and less improbable that AWS might one day partner with an independent EU-based datacenters operator to provide new AWS regions that would be out of reach of US legislation.
Moreover, AWS already proposes its GovCloud to various US federal agencies, which means it already has the ability to set up isolated regions for the specific needs of state customers.

What remains to be seen is whether AWS would accept to have a company it does not control, operate an AWS region. On the AWS side, such a strategy would represent an obvious risk of having a 3rd-party set up their own offering that would be AWS-compatible, but on the other hand, EU state entities are huge potential customers.
Should AWS win the Pentagon JEDI contract, AWS would be in an even better position to address all the IT needs any western state agency can have.

All in all, it will be very interesting to see in the future how AWS Snowball and Outposts offerings mature and how large organizations react to them.

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