GhostA colleague pointed me at an article in Computing the other day that starts off with “Retail giant Marks & Spencer is ditching Amazon as its online platform host“. As we are a leading AWS Solution Provider, interesting I thought, so I looked into it. The article itself it not misleading, but as usual the comments and interpretation it has generated have confused Amazon the retail store with Amazon Web Services (AWS) the IaaS/PaaS provider. For example someone made the comment “One is left wondering how many of AWS’s customers will move to rackspace or other companies of that ilk” – which is nonsense IMHO, and I’ll explain why.

M&S’s eCommerce offering is built using a white-labelled version of Amazon’s retail store – see this article in ComputerWeekly from 2007 when it was announced. I’m sure that some or all of M&S’s eCommerce site runs on AWS infrastructure, but that’s not the point really. I totally understand a retail organisation’s reluctance to use a retail competitor’s platform due to the reduced control over new functionality releases and the level of business data insight that this could give to a competitor. But those arguments do not apply to running a retail (with your own eCommerce software/platform) operation on AWS – if you follow good cloud architectural practices, e.g. encrypt data in transit and at rest, keep your encryption keys private and away from the cloud service provider etc.

In discussions with customers and vendors I see this confusion of Amazon.com and AWS all the time (sometimes deliberately to spread fear, and sometimes accidentally through lack of understanding). To be balanced here, the AWS offering has historically leaned on the Amazon.com brand and scale as a selling point, so I guess AWS need to keep making this distinction clear (which I’ve seen them do in every presentation). Anyway, either way it’s a red herring…and getting a bit tedious.