"Cloud is becoming the new normal, and not using cloud is just like fighting gravity. It is inevitable," says Glenn Gore, head of infrastructure, APAC for Amazon Web Services.

"If you are not using it or looking at where it fits on your own strategy, you run the risk of being overtaken by others using the platform to increase their agility and scale," says Gore in his keynote at this year's AWS Summit in Auckland.

More than 1300 business technology professionals attended this year's conference.

Tim Dacombe-Bird, regional sales manager, AWS says this year's event is a "dramatic turnaround" from the first summit in New Zealand three years ago.

This year, he says, 61 per cent of attendees were from mid-market companies and above. Before, the majority of attendees were startups and small businesses.

Default position

"The cloud is becoming the default position of customers looking to build new applications and services," says Gore.

Gore says when he joined Amazon, he would speak to an enterprise customer once a week. Now he is speaking to enterprise customers "multiple times a day". Their questions include how to get the same agility of the startups, some of which they are going to compete with.

For startups, he says, cloud is a natural starting point as they like to disrupt long serving industries. "They need to innovate, experiment, take big risks to see what works and does not work."

The software providers, meanwhile, are shifting across to make their software cloud apps native. "There are different services coming out natively from the cloud."

The shift is also affecting the skills in the marketplace, as more people are getting AWS levels of training and certification.

"We are seeing people vote with their feet," he says. "They want to play with technology that makes their life easier. People are starting to pick companies they want to work for based on new technologies, access to innovation and access to make a difference to things they are passionate about."

The themes of speed, disruption and innovation were reiterated by other keynote speakers who are also AWS customers -- Xero CEO Rod Drury; Chris South, head of dynamics services at Network for Learning, and Thomas Salmen,GM of enablement at Spark Ventures.

Rod Drury: 'Speed is our competitive weapon'

"Our culture is one of speed, says Rod Drury of Xero. "We know if we can go faster than incumbents we can grab significant market share," says Drury, noting that Xero had released 729 updates last year.

"We are continuously updating our product, speed is our competitive weapon," says Drury.

Read more:The CIO's bi-modal innovation agenda

He says when Xero started nine years ago, the three main accounting software vendors around the world had updated their software every 18 months.

"What really turns me on is deployment speed and being able to really re-architect our whole dev model over the last two years so we can release small bits of functionality really, really quickly and take that dev ops time period out which gives us more and more velocity," says Drury.

"It just scares the hell out of our competitors," he says. "They just have not had a competitor that can operate so quickly, and I think our numbers are showing this."

He says the following title of a book remains Xero's mantra: It's Not the Big That Eat the Small...It's the Fast That Eat the Slow . It was written by Jason Jennings and Laurence Haughton and was Xero's reference long before Xero even started.

Stable of startups

Thomas Salmen, GM, venture rnablement at Spark Ventures, says AWS has allowed the group to process ever increasing sizes of data from its stable of startup companies. These include Qrious, Lightbox, Big Pipe and Skinny.

"We have got hundreds of terabytes of data, and AWS has been a critical part of that journey," he says.

Lightbox, for instance, has had 7.5 million hours streamed since its launch. "That is a massive tidal wave of content, he says. "The numbers ar

Read more:The challenger's cloud platform

N4L head of dynamic services Chris South: Scalability

Chris South talked about how AWS is helping the Crown owned agency meet the scale needed by the users of Pond, its online learning hub.

The audience for Pond is big, he says, and these include 60,000 teachers and 750,000 students, or 20 per cent of the New Zealand population. But If you add the community around them, like whanau it is "pretty much the whole country".

"You are not going to run this stuff on small hardware," he says. "We need the scale to do this," he says, but do not want to do any 'heavy lifting' or 'reinvent the wheel' for the technology they will use.

He says when teachers told him how Pond has helped them find resources they could use in the classroom, the meeting "stopped being a technology conversation" and became a teacher conversation.

"If we can help the children's teachers, it would make a huge start to making better education," he states.

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