I had a feeling I’d learn a lot from The Startup Project hosted by Amazon.com a few weeks ago in a funky loft on Capitol Hill. It was the first of several events the company is holding to introduce its services to developers and entrepreneurs.
The room had more startup buzz than a month of TechCrunch. Everywhere I turned there was somebody starting a cool new company, way more than I could include in today’s column.
I ended up sitting next to Josh Juster, who had left Microsoft to start a new company three days earlier. Juster, who worked on Zune and MSN, said the company is tentatively called Nightify and will be like “evite meets CitySearch.”
They weren’t all using Amazon Web Services, but it sounds like they’ll have to consider them if they’re seeking venture funding. Apparently, VCs are becoming major evangelists for services like S3 storage and Elastic Computing on-demand processing, since they can dramatically cut the cost of launching a Web business.
Andrew Jassy told me VCs around the country have contacted Amazon, asking to be involved in startup projects in their cities. They haven’t announced plans yet, but Silicon Valley, Boston and Austin, Texas, are likely locales.
One thing I’m still curious about is how AWS will affect Microsoft. Short-term, Microsoft has to be thinking about more hosted developer services to counter what AWS is offering to Web developers and startups.
I also wonder how much AWS and the like will affect Windows Server sales. Microsoft’s selling point is lower cost. It managed to defend that position against Linux with the TCO arguments, but AWS seems to undercut them even further, trimming out the cost of open-source computing with EC2.
Could Microsoft offer an Elastic Longhorn Computing Cloud, or would that be too offensive to Dell and other server manufacturers?
I’m also curious to see whether Google responds with hosted services. That seems like a natural thing for it to announce later this month when it starts holding Google Developer Days conferences.
Also likely to be affected by AWS are traditional outsourcing firms. A few years ago I visited Wipro’s headquarters in Bangalore and saw the room where it remotely manages datacenters for companies like GE.
That’s the same concept, I think, but Amazon’s trying to make outsourced infrastructure simple and self-service so it makes sense for smaller companies.
Another day, I’ll have to explore whether we’re going back to timeshare computing.