Utility Supercomputing: Amazon Markets The Cloud

Mar. 9.12 | About: Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)

Here is a new buzzword for you - utility supercomputing.

It was used this week by Dr. Matt Wood of Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) at a recent Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) press event, who credited Jason Stowe of Cycle Computing with coining the term last October.

It's a pretty good shorthand for what clouds can do for enterprises right now.

Objections to cloud involving security or privacy may keep some businesses from using the cloud, but most understand that there are times when they have a big job to do and not enough power in-house to do it.

Jobs like rendering a movie, or seeing the structure of a drug and its target, modeling parts or new businesses, these are the kinds of things that only large enterprises have been able to do until now. They haven't been available to smaller companies with just networks and workstations. And they've been a major scheduling headache for the bigger enterprises as well.

Amazon can offload this work, handle it quickly, get results back, make customers more competitive. They can do this for universities or governments as well as industry. Or, to sort of quote my "Cloud Bust" piece, "You have a supercomputer, and if you have a supercomputer, everybody has a supercomputer."

This kind of creative marketing is becoming essential to cloud growth as low-hanging fruit grows scarce, as competition increases and as objections from enterprise vendors take hold in IT departments.

Amazon isn't known as a tech marketer. In tech it's known for the performance of its cloud, for making it available, not its ability to sell it. Selling is something its merchants do. So this is an important change for the company.

It's also going to benefit other cloud providers, like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Rackspace (NYSE:RAX), because it describes some of their capabilities as well. But Amazon is the public cloud leader, and it will benefit that company first, and most.

Your caution here is that it's now evident all public cloud vendors are going to have to raise their marketing games if they're to justify their sky-high PEs and grow enough to justify them.

To the extent that the new buzzword benefits customers, that it motivates use and accelerates change on every level, that's a bonus.

Disclosure: I am long AMZN, GOOG, INTC.