Amazon CTO: Shift to Cloud-Based Work Is Permanent

At its first online-only AWS summit, Amazon executives make the case that remote work is here to stay.
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Amazon kicked off its first virtual AWS summit this week, and in keeping with the new format, argued that in-person work environments aren't coming back anytime soon. 

Amazon's CTO, Werner Vogels, opened the virtual event with a keynote highlighting how AWS has been used across various industries that are suddenly conducting business in remote, distributed environments -- with no certainty around when, if ever, workers will return to offices on a permanent basis.  

"In 2020 and beyond, most organizations are going to be transforming into a completely cloud-based environment," said Vogels. 

Amazon  (AMZN) - Get Report shares were roughly flat on Wednesday to $2,355.90, and have risen about 24% year to date along with increased demand for both e-commerce and cloud services. 

"We are seeing a fundamental shift in how everyone is fueling, not just technology itself, but access to that technology and building that technology," Vogels added, saying that global spending on artificial intelligence and machine learning, two areas of cloud development that Amazon has emphasized, will exceed $50 billion in 2021. 

Vogels highlighted how AWS is used in telemedicine and in the entertainment industry, the latter of which relies on huge amounts of data throughout the process of producing, editing, delivering and marketing content.

"The backend core assets needs to be accessed...regardless of what industry you're in, you need true business collaboration," he said, also emphasizing the ease of controlling scale and costs in AWS. 

The commerce and cloud giant is one of several major firms that cancelled major in-person conferences this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Google  (GOOGL) - Get Report, Apple  and others have either postponed or adapted their regular annual events this spring and summer. 

Analysts view the pandemic as having accelerated an ongoing shift to cloud-based work environments, and Amazon, Microsoft  (MSFT) - Get Report Google and others are jockeying for a larger slice of the fast-growing market. 

In its March quarter earnings release, Amazon reported revenues of $10.22 billion for AWS, reflecting 33% growth, a slight deceleration from 37% growth in the year-ago quarter.

Amazon CFO Olsavsky noted AWS's diverse base of customers, some of whom have seen high growth in the pandemic, while others, like travel and hospitality, have seen their businesses contract dramatically.

AWS's results are "going to be tied to the general economic conditions for the country and the world, quite frankly," Olsavsky said. 

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