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Amazon's cloud business is competing with its own customers (cnbc.com)
212 points by NicoJuicy 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 177 comments

The trend I've noticed is that AWS makes a lot of very half-baked services that appear to compete with third-parties, but provide about 10% of the features and usability. Maybe they're hoping that's enough for the bulk of users (and maybe it is), but from what I've seen, if you want to do anything serious, you still have to use a third-party.

Take CloudWatch for example. It's technically "competing" with Splunk, Datadog, and other logging/metrics services. But the usability of CloudWatch is beyond poor - it's slow, the UI is terrible, and has tons of limitations. It provides just barely enough usability that hobbyist users can use it. But most serious businesses will revert to Splunk or Sumo Logic or Datadog.

Another issue I have with AWS is that they simply provide too many ways to do the same thing. I want to run a container. Should I use ElasticBeanstalk? ECS? Fargate? EC2 with Docker? I've been using AWS for years, so I get the subtle differences, but some users just want to click a button and be done with it, which is where third-parties can excel.

This is not unique, it is the “integrated” vs “best of breed” offering. It’s like the oldest business school IT case. Amazon isn’t trying to sell the best anything, they’re selling one spot where you can get everything you need even if some of it is crappy.

It’s also a result of feature-driven RFPs or similar check-the-box driven evaluation.

There’s a line item for “integrated log analysis” that needs to be met, but there’s less analysis on how useful that feature may be in reality.


Enterprise IT processes are filled with these kind of word-docs filled with checkboxes, and for that, AWS's featureset excels.

This makes a lot of sense because most of us aren't going to work with a different company for each and every part of our infrastructure. If it's super critical it be the best, I'm going to seek out the right tool for the job. If I just need to have something, at a basic level, I'd rather work with a company I already work with.

Absolutely. I think the parent poster is massively overgeneralizing that CloudWatch is only good for "hobbyist users". Nearly every product I've worked on that's utilized AWS has sent to CloudWatch, because unless they have special needs CloudWatch doesn't meet then you might as well use it because nearly every AWS product and docs are already sending their logs there by default and it's one less infrastructure company to keep track of.

I have been super-unsatisfied with the status quo of Cloudwatch; it is not a production grade logging system if it allows you to keep zillions of streams in logs but provides A) no way to search through them all to find the last time you had a certain error containing a certain string (grep -r -i on EFS plain text logs is better than Cloudwatch!), and B) no way to trend specific errors/issues over time.

It does seem like as of last week's announcement they are starting to try to fix this. I was annoyed we had to log stuff to both Cloudwatch and Splunk to try to get decent logging.

Have to agree... I generally log to line separated json for logging, and what CloudWatch does offer for this works out really well for the times I've used it. TBH, for small/personal projects, I'm more likely to use, and have used dokku on Digital Ocean.

About the only thing I don't like doing is managing my own DB server... so I'm really happy to see DO expanding into this space. For applications and services, dokku gets me where I need to be with the least fuss. I know if anything took off it would mean some pain, but I'll take that when/if it ever happened.

> This is not unique, it is the “integrated” vs “best of breed” offering.

The integration aspect really matters for security and compliance, as well as standardisation: all of which become bigger concerns the larger your organization. If you use the AWS service, you can re-use IAM, CloudTrail, CloudFormation etc. If you attach a third-party service to your AWS setup, then there's a bunch of things to work out.

"Overwhelming mediocrity"

Software industry's evolution in a nutshell. New tools are this to old tools. SaaS are this to desktop software.

It seems like your qoute is a common saying but neither me nor google seems to really know it. So I would guess your downvotes come from not providing enough context about what you want to say.

UI/UX is definitely not their strong suit and CloudWatch is one of the worst offenders. I really hope they aquire a company to deliver a completely revamped observability platform in the same vein as where Stackdriver is headed. They really seem to stuggle building things in house that have a great user experience.

That being said, they excel at building things that are scalable, reliable and secure, and while you may only see that as 10% of the features, for a lot of ppl that is 80-90%, especially if data is involved. They do tend to improve their products over time as well and for better or worse I am sure a lot of those resourcing decisions are driven by data/revenue rather than how crappy the product is.

At the end of the day this allows others to continue to compete with them, which is a good thing.

A big part of that was because until recently Frontend Engineers were second class citizens at Amazon. It became easier and easier to work for a year here then move to Facebook/Google and a variety of unicorns and get a huge pay raise.

Whether or not that's enough remains to be seen.

It’s kinda crazy that the whole FEE thing was treated like a lightbulb moment for the company when everyone else in the industry had them.

Amazon moves incredibly fast when it comes to products and incredibly slow when it comes to employee growth. They are treating it like a lightbulb moment, but several of the people involved in this have been working on it for a decade.

Reality is, they didn't want to pay FEE's big money because they weren't worth it, and now the company is starving for good UX and they want to pretend they invented a solution to the problem by creating a role that's existed at Google for more than 10 years.

I hope there is buy in from at least the Product Manager level as well. The issues are deeper than just a new coat of paint.

What changed?

Previously Amazon separated frontend focused engineers (WDE's) and software engineers (SDE's) but the former had a lower payscale than the latter. The end result, every single time, is that great FEE's would simply work at Amazon for 1-2 years and move to Google or Facebook where they were paid considerably more.

Amazon finally rectified it by introducing the FEE role, which has the same pay scale as SDE's. Perhaps more importantly, the WDE role terminated at WDE III and even that was incredibly difficult to achieve.

API gateway is one of the worst UI's i've ever used.

Being the worst is not as bad as people think. McDonalds has the worst burgers and Taco Bell the worst tacos, yet both massively successful operations.

I doubt McDs has the worst burgers but I get your point. The pros of McDs, you go anywhere in the world, you can expect reasonable quality, the familiarity of the brand/ products at reasonable prices. They won't be the best or the worst but do the job.

They are absolutely the worst burgers in the world. I'd take a burnt freshly grilled burger over a McDisappointment.

They're definitely not the worst burgers in the world. I've had worse from commercial and non commercial sources.

> They are absolutely the worst burgers in the world.

That is just your opinion, I love McD burgers. I can also guarantee that in a line up of 5 burgers you wont be able to figure out which one is from McD with blindfold on.

Clearly you have not had Jack in the Box tacos.

Clearly you have not seen Azure's UI.

Aws CodePipe or Workdocs does not agree with this...

They're revamping some of the console pages, like RDS and ActiveMQ with a new design language, but I think their official stance is that no one in their right might should be using the console at scale anyway. The console itself uses the APIs, so anyone doing anything respectable should just use the APIs. The console is really a second class citizen, and I assume the designers who work on it are as well.

I don't want to have to learn to interface with a bunch of arcane APIs or terminal interfaces to string together a proof of concept on a cloud provider. In my experience Azure was by far the easiest (and most costly) to get off the ground and something built with.

I mean, we've all got a limited amount of time to learn and try new things... being very hard to get some simple SaaS endpoints setup from AWS is often an exercise in frustration. And while I appreciate all the detailed IAM and Firewall options, on Azure (by comparison), if I have the correct security token, I can generally connect over a secure connection from anywhere in the world to pretty much any of their services without friction.

And if I'm going to have to learn a bunch of crap, I'd just assume learn a little more and roll my own on Linode or DO, or any number of much less expensive compute options.

Amazon’s goal with this is to check the boxes. Enterprise customers don’t give a hoot about quality, just compliance.

Not true, they clearly do care about quality.

It works because if you are already using a bunch of AWS services, and then you need something that they are providing, you will give that a go first. If it doesn't provide enough, you will move to something else.

They care about quality as long as it's "good enough".

Many, many projects, will meet business or contract requirements with the lowest friction product. A great example is "IDS/IPS" or "Anti-malware". Unless specific metrics, requirements, or fine/fee structures exist, 9/10 times, people will check the box on the easiest to deploy.

Dont you think your statement contradicts between the first sentence and the second?


"Enterprise customers don’t give a hoot about quality, just compliance."

This is a broad statement :-)

Compliance is mandatory and often sales advantage for being able to sell to certain class of enterprises.

IMHO, quality vs. rich feature set are different things and I see that being mixed up in the overall discussion. All AWS services exceed certain quality standards. Services are built to solve customer problems first. It's not unusual to find gap in feature set vs. competition.

Disclaimer: I used to work for AWS, but do not work there anymore.

Any recommendation for someone who cannot relocate but has an AWS solutions architect certification to work remotely?

> Enterprise customers don’t give a hoot about quality, just compliance.

This is pretty much spot on.

We use a ton of AWS's services because AWS is already on-boarded for our enterprise. It's way easier to use a AWS feature than to on-board a specialized vendor.

> Maybe they're hoping that's enough for the bulk of users (and maybe it is)

They should brand it 'AWS Basics'.

There are many products that they sell as PaaS that are much more beginner friendly. Elastic Beanstalk seems like a good starting point for people looking for "basics"

It's a take on "Amazon Basics" from their retail presence; simple/lower-quality versions that are good enough for 90% of people.

I think you would be surprised to see how the enterprise see simplicity as an important part of defining quality.

Having to manage across multiple different system vendors is not a trivial task, if AWS offers a half baked, yet good enough solution, the customers at least will be willing to give it a try.

Ultimately, the competitiveness of your service shouldn't be defined as whether Amazon choose to compete with you or not. If it is indeed the case, then that is something you need to rethink how to position yourself in the market.

This is so true. For example, AWS ElasticSearch, only a tiny fraction of plugins are supported, it doesn't even support gzip compression for requests and responses....

>Maybe they're hoping that's enough for the bulk of users (and maybe it is), but from what I've seen, if you want to do anything serious, you still have to use a third-party.

Or is it that they hope people would rather get everything from 1 vendor even if it's sub par?

I've noticed for example, that Prime Video and Music are inferior Netflix and Spotify. But I could see myself, if I wanted to tighten my belt, dropping the latter two to save some monthly fees.

Absolutely. Netflix in 4k is, what, $13? And Spotify is $10. Amazon Prime is getting to be a better deal every year, but not if you subscribe only for shipping speed.

> I want to run a container. Should I use ElasticBeanstalk? ECS? Fargate? EC2 with Docker?

Depends on what you're trying to do... I find that dokku goes a long way if you just want to coordinate a few things on a small scale. It's also relatively easy to put 2-3 instances behind a load balancer and just doing blue-green deploys that way. Elastic Beanstalk was also pretty easy with a simple Dockerfile in place. In terms of having a modestly flexible service layer.

I can't speak to the rest, but I just tend to avoid friction as much as possible for as long as possible. I'd rather have a good enough solution that I can work with quickly and not have to spend a lot of time/effort on over more complex solutions.

I don't know what Samsung did with the stuff that was being done by Joyent, but theirs was always an interesting approach in my mind.

Another issue I have with AWS is that they simply provide too many ways to do the same thing. I want to run a container. Should I use ElasticBeanstalk? ECS? Fargate? EC2 with Docker? I've been using AWS for years, so I get the subtle differences, but some users just want to click a button and be done with it, which is where third-parties can excel.

Or pay overpriced “Implementation Consultants”. I have no sympathy for people who don’t take the time to learn the subtleties of the platform they choose to use.

On the other hand, I’ll gladly charge them a nice hourly rate to help them.

In a lot of companies you simply don't get the time to study things. I am right now working on porting a project to the cloud that was previously supported (and fucked up) by our IT department but it's hard to do it right. Ths director has declared that AWS is best and there is a lot of pressure to show something soon or the move to cloud may get cancelled.

There is no way to get something really that way but getting away from IT is already worth it even if the result is still not very good.

I feel your pain. I was the dev lead at a company and responsible for a decently complex new green field project. They decided to “move to the cloud” at the time I didn’t know anything about AWS and the “consultants” that were brought in only knew networking and the best they could help us do is a “lift and shift”. I was neither given the time to research, given good consultants that knew anything about the development and Devops portions of AWS or given the access to a dev account to experiment and do proof of concepts.

So so did everything like I would do on prem with a bunch of VMs.

I asked them to set up a dev, qa, uat, and production subnet. All with multiple VMs.

I used 7 VMs for Hashicorp’s Consul, 7 for Nomad, and 7 for Mongo. (1 for each non production environment and a cluster of 3 for production.) I also used Fabio. Between all of that I had my configuration key/value store, service discovery, job scheduling (Nomad), and data store. I also had build boxes for Team Foundation Server (or whatever MS is calling thier hosted TFS version these days with local agents.)

It wasn’t until after I was getting ready to leave the company that I realized how dumb this setup was for an AWS hosted solution. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have done too much differently today for a self hosted solution.

I left the company, self demoted to an individual contributor role at a smaller company that was “cloud native” and I spent the next year learning AWS inside and out and taking advantage of reimbursements for certifications.

I’m still at the company now, but when and if so do decide to leave, I’m. It going back to being an architect for a company. Consulting is way more lucrative.

> ElasticBeanstalk? ECS? Fargate? EC2 with Docker?

Historical reasons. The technology has evolved, and AWS has simply continued to add new services. Sometimes there is overlap. Perhaps if they were starting from scratch they might offer only one product.

Also companies get stuck in their stack and then demand features that don't really make sense for the core AWS product. Like "I wish my Lambda container would live forever"

This is what MVPs are all about, surely? Amazon may have vast resources, but they are not infinite. Amazon strategy seems sound from a business perspective.

This is true, but 10% really isn't fair.

They have nothing that is feature complete, but if it were just 10% they wouldn't get buyin.

There's also EKS now, which is competing directly with ECS / Fargate I guess?

It’s also them realizing people are willing to switch to Google for managed Kubernetes over using mediocre ECS.

Somebody noticed! I thought it was just me.

Even their API interfaces are dated and cumbersome to use.

Could you elaborate? Genuinely curious.

Not OP, but the problems I remember are: Inconsistent use of query parameters. Retrieving metrics for managed Elasticsearch requires more parameters than almost anything else. Inability to get arbitrary percentiles in the same query as “standard” percentiles. Documentation is awful. I found it was mostly good enough to get you to raw JSON output, and then it was on you to figure out how things worked. The delay is a killer. I understand eventual consistency is a thing, but that’s not really useful for metrics. Please, for the love of $DIETY, record them in a fast store and long term store and don’t make me wait 10-15 minutes for ELB metrics.

Splunk competes not with CloudWatch, but with Elasticsearch Service, that includes Kibana.

take a look at insights

That's why I think MongoDB's new license which prevents AWS etc from hosting as a service without open sourcing makes sense (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18229452). Amazon barely contributes anything back to the community and is known for destroying OSS businesses.

I fully agree that AWS should do a better job of contributing back to OSS communities both in terms of code, money and man hours, however I don't think most ppl appreciate that a lot of AWS' secret sauce just doesn't make sense to open source even if they wanted to.

They build their own custom nitro ASICs to integrate with KVM, for networking, storage, security, etc. That code doesn't make sense anywhere but AWS. They build things in ways that are tightly integrated with their internal systems and at a scale that few have experience with.

Take their new Envoy based service mesh for example, I really do hope that they make meaningful contributions back to the main project, but I also suspect they will doing lots of custom integration with their own hardware and internal network that will never make sense to support in an OSS project. Who knows, their Annapurna Labs divsion might even be building a custom card that includes Envoy functionality.

As to them being known for destroying OSS businesses I am drawing a blank there, can you provide some examples?

That's why MongoDB's SSPL license is kind of disingenuous: they don't really want the source code to AWS; they want to get paid. The Commons Clause is more honest about getting paid.

This is a lame excuse. Google has open sourced all kinds of Linux kernel work and they were doing custom hardware with huge proprietary internal systems way before AWS was a thing.

Open source takes work and the foresight to separate your custom shit from things genuinely helpful to the community. Amazon doesn't encourage or incentivize that kind of thinking.

> Open source takes work and the foresight to separate your custom shit from things genuinely helpful to the community.

That is exactly what AWS has done in releasing Firecracker[1]. Better late than never.

1. https://firecracker-microvm.github.io

What about DynamoDB? I'm pretty sure they could open source a lot but they just don't want. Google had the same pathetic excuse when asked why they don't open source appengine or datastore.

Nobody is entitled to proprietary development by these companies. Amazon wrote the Dynamo paper which gave us Cassandra/Scylla and Google produced BigTable which was replicated by HBase.

Releasing stuff isn't simple, the hosted services only work because of the rest of their infrastructure. Writing about the tech is usually the best way to spur clean open-source versions that we can all use.

I don't think that excuse is particularly pathetic; I would be shocked if appengine can run without Borg or some equivalent, at which point open sourcing it is a lovely thought and completely worthless to everyone. It's the equivalent of open sourcing a program in a language for which all compilers are proprietary and generally not available (K comes to mind). Not literally 100% without value, but close enough.

I mean it would be cool if they did, but the secret sauce behind DynamoDb is really the scale, without it it probably wouldn't have the performance characteristics end users are looking for. Nor do I think AWS ever wants to be in the business of supporting a non-managed piece of software.

> What about DynamoDB?

From what I recall DynamoDB is a somewhat hacky API layer over a bunch of MySQL clusters. I'm not sure anyone would, or should, attempt to use a non-managed version of it.

Where do you recall that from? Your description doesn’t match their published paper in any way.

DynamoDB is different from their published paper, which is mostly about designing a highly available key/value system that can be run on top of any other datastore. The paper does mention MySQL as a storage option.

The recent MySQL info comes from this 2016 thread on DynamoDB storing empty strings: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13170746

Confirmed by this comment specifically: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13173927

The latest 2018 ReInvent deep dive on DynamoDB doesn't reveal anything but still fits if mysql is powering the storage nodes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvBR71D0nAQ

My understanding is that DynamoDB != Dynamo Paper

Amazon isn't good at open sourcing stuff, I am 100% with you.

But there is more to this as well. AWS is a huge ecosystem by itself, a lot their services intertwined with each other, simply open source DynamoDB isn't enough without open sourcing the networking/storage functionality that is probably provided by other services.

I wonder with Amazon if we’re seeing a failure mode of Apache and BSD licenses, and if the future OSS might trend back towards more aggressively being copy left... or some place in between.

I'm actually not sure how this is a failure mode of those licenses.

I thought the point of permissive licenses over copyleft licenses is that you're explicitly granting companies the right to make money off your code without giving anything back.

It's the difference between believing that what matters is user rights and sharing code, and believing that what matters is the world containing more cool stuff.

Tim O'Reilly has a story (which I'll probably butcher) where after publishing the BSD manuals as books he was accused by someone at a conference of stealing the author's work. One of the authors stood up and said something like "Actually what Tim is doing is exactly what we want - spreading the material as widely as possible and making it as useful as possible. We knew exactly what we were doing choosing that license".

It's the same spirit in which MacOS being based on BSD is fine, even if not a single line of code is shared back. The question isn't "What did Apple share back to BSD programmers recently?", it's "Is the world a better place with MacOS in it as something people can choose to use?".

The same applies to Amazon. It simply wouldn't have been possible to build something like Amazon purely on proprietary code, running only proprietary OSes and services. Even if they had, it would have been a lot less interesting. I think it's pretty clear that the world is a better place with services like AWS available. As long as they follow the licenses of the software they use, there isn't a problem, but if some licensors disagree they can always change their license.

Yeah, what has failed is the idea that licenses are all basically the same and thus you should choose whatever license all the cool kids are using lately. We're seeing that licenses matter and you can't choose a permissive license and later complain about "the spirit of open source".

Right. These licenses are a thin layer on top of public domain mostly to disclaim liability. The whole point is that you don’t care what anyone else does with it.

If you want a quid pro quo, then you should have been using copyleft (or something else) all along.

You might be interested in this work: https://blog.licensezero.com/2018/11/24/parity-5.0.0.html

I don't think the existing permissive to copyleft spectrum is what matters here. MongoDB, for example, was previously licensed under the AGPL, which is the most aggressive OSI-approved copyleft license I can think of, but they still felt the need to adopt a controversial new license targeted at cloud providers. For another example, Redis Labs didn't decide to adopt a stronger copyleft license for their extensions, they decided to make them proprietary.

I really hope not, the fact that all of these services are based on OSS software is what will help keep Amazon in check as they grow, because at the end of the day if AWS starts to turn into Oracle and get abusive with their pricing/licensing then the customer has a lot more leverage to move to another cloud or self host.

To me, the fact that AWS is basing all their services OSS is a good thing for consumers. The thought of it all being proprietary is what would scare me.

If they aren’t open sourcing the innovations they make on top of open source software, then it is proprietary software.

I think amazon are unlikely to give up any competitive advantage they are not forced to give up.

> If they aren’t open sourcing the innovations they make on top of open source software

I'm not sure I'm reading your statement correctly, but it sounds like you're saying that anything not developed under a copyleft license is proprietary.

If it was important for authors to receive contributions from derivative works, why would they have selected a license that doesn't require that?

I don’t see how you interpreted it that way - anything released with a proprietary license, or closed source and not released at all, is proprietary. The fact that it’s derivative of an MIT or similarly licensed work makes no difference.

Yes, sorry, I thought you were giving it a normative interpretation, but you were just stating a fact.

I agree that your statement is correct.

The innovations Amazon ads are useless outside of Amazon. Everything is about scaling open source systems inside of the Amazon ecosystem. It's not going to be usable or useful anywhere else.

That’s difficult to discuss without knowing the details, but it’s hard to believe that there isn’t anything that is of use to someone outside of amazon, even other cloud providers. There must be some efficiency gains somewhere that would benefit the original software.

Maybe minimal benefits to other cloud providers, but hardly something you'd need in the core library. I think Amazon should contribute more to open source, but I certainly wouldn't think any company should release something that would only benefit it's competitors.

It is essentially a case of letter vs spirit - using it unmodified doesn't require a contribution. I never got hired by Amazon but I believe their work is technically schema and configuration. No license I am aware of calls for such radical transparency.

Good luck self-hosting DynamoDB and your AWS Lambdas...

There are DynamoDB Local[1] and AWS SAM CLI[2], both from AWS, which allow you to self-host DynamoDB and AWS Lambda functions. ;)

That said, I agree with your argument, but found it rather funny that you just picked two AWS services you can indeed run locally.

[1]: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/amazondynamodb/latest/developerg...

[2]: https://github.com/awslabs/aws-sam-cli/

These are meant for anything more than dev testing though. All the big clouds offer various dev/local versions of their hosted products that are usually just wrappers around sqlite or rocksdb to emulate the interfaces.

DynamoDB is really only good for testing since it uses SQLite underneath.

All the more reason for an AWS managed version of MongoDB and Knative...

The only reason that's never going to happen is because Mongo's licensing prevents it.

Even GPL wouldn't stop Amazon from offering API interfaces to services built on GPL software. They're not selling/distributing the software. AGPL and similar provisions might work, but then you risk alienating most commercial interest.

Many either don't understand or don't want to take on any risk associated with some kinds of licensing or barriers in certain situations. Right now I've had to work around calling a GPL executable (pngquant), simply because we don't want to have to require it as a separate install. So switched to an alternative implementation.

It just depends on where you are, where your business is, and what you're working towards/against. It's hard to find a balance. And it will take some time to flush out. MongoDB and Redis come to mind here. They have to make some money to pay their bills and developers, also profit isn't a bad word. At the same time, huge cloud providers are offering services using their software and the devs make nothing. I get both sides here. There's no perfect solution here.

I am quite on fence about this topic. I think the best way for Amazon to do is to make contributions to the OSS organizations that helps them making so much money, if they choose not to give their source code back to the community.

Amazon sell thousands of things under their own brands that they cherry-picked from their vendors' products and sales data. It is unlikely to matter if your software is open source, it just means making an alternative which they've already done for everything from chairs to Java.

If they're going to compete on $1.28 shower hooks there's no proprietary SaaS with millions in MRR on AWS that will be too hard to copy.


Amazon just open sourced the hypervisor used for Lambda and Fargate ( https://github.com/firecracker-microvm/firecracker )

When the Spectre/Meltdown hit, Amazon also open sourced the mitigation used for the AWS version of Xen ( http://xenbits.xen.org/xsa/xsa254/README.vixen )

If you search the Linux git commits for people with @amazon emails, you'll find contributions, bug fixes, etc.

I don't think it's fair to say that barely anything is contributed back.

Firecracker is a forked copy of Crosvm. Looks like they did so late last year?

I'm not strong enough in Rust or familiar enough with the Crosvm and Firecracker codebases to say, but it looks to me to have pretty majorly departed from it's progenitor at this point.

It was announced last week during reinvent.

I'm super interested in Amazon being known for destroying OSS businesses. Can anybody expand with some examples I can dig into?

Can someone explain to me why the AGPL did not cover the case of a SaaS provider hosting their modified version. I thought that that's exactly what the AGPL was for.

I am personally much happier to see AWS implement managed versions of OSS like Kubernetes and Kafka, than to only see them offer their proprietary versions (Kinesis & ECS).

The fact that all of these services are based on OSS software is what will help keep Amazon in check as they continue to grow and dominate, because at the end of the day if AWS starts to turn into Oracle and get abusive with their pricing/licensing then the customer has a lot more leverage to move to another cloud or self host.

I am not holding my breath for some kind of government driven intervention, nor have I heard an idea of how that would work that makes sense. I think OSS is what is saving us here, and we should celebrate when a project becomes popular enough for AWS to offer it.

Is it fair to the developers that they don't get compensated, nope, but isn't part of the point of OSS to make sure that great solutions get reused and widely deployed?

I think companies building great software can continue to make money servicing it even with AWS in the picture, but I think if you want to make unicorn returns you are going to have to move further up the stack.

Honestly, at some point I hope we are no longer even taking about low level components like Kubernetes and Kafka and that we look back and laugh at the fact that we used to have to license and get support for these things individually. I do also hope that we manage to find a sustainable (if not equitable) model to support the development of these tools.

All the clouds are built on top of the Linux kernel and nobody really expects the kernel devs to get a cut of all those profits, but they seem to have a sustainable model for development, I hope we can continue to figure out good ways to do this for more and more OSS tools.

The story I heard about Kinesis (and it could be a misunderstanding) is that Amazon originally wanted to offer managed Kafka but they couldn’t get it working with their infrastructure and started from scratch.

MSK makes sense now as Kafka has matured significantly, while Amazon has had experience in porting OSS onto their infrastructure stack (Aurora, managed ActiveMQ, EKS).

Kinesis is based on DynamoDB, so not from scratch...

Is there any public information available about this?

There is nothing that prevents AWS from using it's own systems as business intelligence for creating their own competitive products.

Think about it like "store brand" software. If people seem to be installing docker on 40% of AWS instances, then evolving Amazon ECS to include an Amazon branded Docker clone, effectively replacing Docker, is a no-brainer.

Seems like this is the way they are going. No need to acquire companies if you can just build infrastructure or services natively that work more easily.

Terrifying times out there for starting a software company.

They don't really need to do anything sneaky to figure out what to build next. They generally build things that their customers are banging down their doors asking them to build.

The main difference with AWS vs Azure or Google is that they have been focused on the space longer and they have really optimized the rate at which they can build out a new scalable, reliable, secure, mananged service.

Sure, the UI/UX is usually not great, and the documentation is imperfect and there are features missing, but they get the hard things right, they charge per second/hour/GB, and they improve over time.

Agreed. They just do a really good job of providing services and support. That's the point though. If people are happy with them, then there's no need for consumers to change and they won't change just because "we don't want to work with Amazon."

Arguably though the US Government (as a customer) has a role to actively encourage a competitive market.

Given that there's special clouds just for gov agencies and now even an HQ near DC, somehow I can't see gov being able to oppose Amazon lobbying

> Sure, the UI/UX is usually not great, and the documentation is imperfect and there are features missing, but they get the hard things right, they charge per second/hour/GB, and they improve over time.

This is why I recently switched to Azure. UI is a million times better, and each product seems to work. Documentation is fantastic.

AWS is full of bugs and stagnant products that overlap. It’s an absolute mess.

Have you thought about why?

It should fix itself eventually, either companies will choose to use Google or Microsoft rather than AWS or the government will smack AWS with monopoly laws. The main concern there is that Bezos has become so entrenched in DC with the washington post, DOD cloud contract, and new headquarters that it's hard to tell if we can rely on the government to do anything

Honestly I doubt it.

1. If Amazon is providing a service that is as good or easier to implement than others, people don't care enough about competition or open markets to decide based on that.

2. From the govt perspective, I'm on the front lines of the DoD cloud discussions and I can tell you that even though we don't want a single provider, and hopefully I can push hard to ensure we have multiple providers, Amazon has the mindshare in the govt and growing.

What makes you think Azure and Google aren’t doing the same thing?

Amazon is entrenched in a lot more than just government. Consumers, shareholders, merchants... a lot of people depend on Amazon to be around and in good health.

> Terrifying times out there for starting a software company.

- High free cash flow businesses that other traditional industries salivate over

- Unlimited rapid scalability

- Virtually no up front computing costs and virtually elastically tied to usage growth

- Limited vendor lock-in

Yes, truly terrifying. /s

- No personnel, pay/benefits, recruiting or technological advantage over FAANG

- No speed to scale advantages over FAANG

- No rapid scalability outside of a FAANG owned platform

- No advantage in new/exiting/upcoming technologies or verticals that FAANG doesn't already have projects in

All the advantages you identify also reside natively inside FAANG, while they have no barriers to scale, with a larger sales force and more easily integrated platform.

Your overall premise of "There is nothing that prevents AWS from using it's own systems as business intelligence for creating their own competitive products." is spot on. But characterizing the situation as "terrifying" seems just a little bit disingenuous. It's a double edged sword.

All of the factors you mentioned are characteristics of any fortune 500 business. Are you familiar with the Innovator's dilemma?

> - No personnel, pay/benefits, recruiting or technological advantage over FAANG

Says who? Don't people leave FAANG companies all of the time because they realize they have technological advantages or don't have the right people? Good example - Otto. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_(company)

> - No speed to scale advantages over FAANG

So let's ignore the agility and nimbleness associated with startups then? Isn't that precisely why so many software startups have been created in the last 15 years?

> - No rapid scalability outside of a FAANG owned platform

Microsoft would like to have a word with you. Ok snarky I know...I get your point. But, the rapid adoption of cloud is creating more and more cloud providers. Since lock-in is less of a problem which means we're getting more vendors with equally competing offers (just look at Equinix, Flexential, Digital Ocean, Linode, Pivotal, Rackspace, etc...just to name a few). Why do you think Azure/AWS/GCP all keep lowering their prices?

> - No advantage in new/exiting/upcoming technologies or verticals that FAANG doesn't already have projects in

What does this even mean? If a FAANG company doesn't have a project in the new/exciting/upcoming technology but you do and you prove the commercial value, then you absolutely have an advantage, no? You're there first! If, as you point out in your original post, FAANG sees that your offering has commercial value (they see more people adopting your technology) then they have to catch up to you anyway. You have a new competitor now, sure, but that is going to happen regardless of whether AWS exists or not. Is it a problem because they have the intelligence to approach the market quicker...sure. Not to mention, your ability to scale was already provided by them! Ultimately, you're complaining that the company that helped provide the scale is now competing against you? Boohoo. If this becomes such a huge problem than another provider will come along and create a "we won't compete against you" policy and change the market. I just don't see why that's such a problem.

> All the advantages you identify also reside natively inside FAANG

I think you've just proven my point. There is a level playing field when it comes to the technology services available to startups. FAANG's have a capital advantage and startups have an agility advantage. There's obviously a lot more nuance to that, but this isn't a terrifying situation at all.

Don't get me wrong, you can still make a niche multi-million dollar company out there in tech land and sell it off at some point. That's not my point.

My point is that you can't make a company today that will beat Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple or Microsoft. There isn't going to be a "changing of the guard" like what happened with IBM, Sun, etc...

The "agility" of a startup, which itself isn't unique anymore, doesn't get you to scale faster than these companies anymore. They will wait for you to prove the market and then blow you out of the water. Trust me I have first hand experience here.

All the channels are saturated and you'll either get bought or crushed. That's what is scary.

> There isn't going to be a "changing of the guard" like what happened with IBM, Sun, etc...

Said the same people when those companies changed the guard of predecessors. Don't you remember the time when people thought Walmart and IBM were infallible?

> Trust me I have first hand experience here.

Trust me, I can cite billions of dollars that have bets (with real money) that say otherwise.

> My point is that you can't make a company today that will beat Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple or Microsoft.

You wanna bet on that? Guess what? You can! Do you have all of your net worth tied up in Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft stock? If not, then your hard stance on the matter is pretty empty.

> The "agility" of a startup, which itself isn't unique anymore, doesn't get you to scale faster than these companies anymore.

Since when?

> All the channels are saturated and you'll either get bought or crushed. That's what is scary.

Bought yes. This is definitely a problem, but for other reasons than your original argument (this is bad for startups)...but I think you just proved my point - you can get bought (for lots of $$ mind you) if you compete.

>Do you have all of your net worth tied up in Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft stock? If not, then your hard stance on the matter is pretty empty.

That's a pretty naive view to how markets work. You can easily come up with scenarios where FAANG companies end up wrecking the scene for both startups and themselves. Stifle innovation long enough through a combination of acquisitions and lobbying government officials for big tech company legislation (e.g. this EU copyright bill, GDPR, obscure data compliance specs, etc) to ensure that nothing too disruptive can really take hold. Then just bloat like all uncompetitive companies while failing to meaningfully grow revenue for 30 years and you have a recipe for underperforming the rest of the market.

I've often wondered this about any tech company that provides infrastructure, analytics, or marketing/advertising tech. If they get customers who compete with another of their businesses, what exists to protect customers physically, technically, or legally?

Seems like a great way to get paid for competitors to do market validation and then swoop in and clean up.

And not just software either. I strongly believe that this monitor-and-replicate methodology is part of why Amazon Prime Video has legs.

Any content provider that uses AWS is just helping to train the beast. That beast might not seem like a threat but it will begin to rival and eventually supplant and usurp its antecedent.

Disclosure: I work on Google Cloud.

For what it's worth, I often recommend customers look to our partners (e.g., Elastic with their managed offering). The people who build the product will know it best. Moreover, they would be way better suited to running say a multi-cloud variant, or staying with you as you move between cloud providers.

There are still barriers though for third-parties on a cloud platform, some of which we as providers can slowly chip away at:

- Integration/Feel: You want to be in the console and feel like a natural part of the platform. This is double-edged though, because holding all partners to such a high bar (say a Google internal API review... ha!) is unrealistic.

- Support: Who do customers call? Their overall cloud provider or their specific service provider? If the customer is having trouble with their Elastic cluster, is it because we're having a GCE outage or did the customer write a query-of-death? For the latter, our front-line support won't be much help. [Edit: And you want to be able to still have a very fast "Hey! My stuff is down!" path. I think technological things could make automatic handoff here much better, but I believe it'll be "not great" for a while.]

- Economics: most service providers are going to be smaller than our largest customers. Those customers have usually signed up for multi-year commitments with high volumes resulting in a discount. If your service pricing model is "on-demand GCE pricing plus our service fee", you suddenly look over 2x as expensive to their TCO folks (just from missing Committed Use, or RIs with AWS). Unbundling the resources from the management fee would make this easier, but I've not seen many service providers attempt it.

We owe you much better docs (start here [1]), but we're trying to get there on at least some of these. All of the "human" factors though are still going to be a challenge, no matter how much software gets written.

[1] https://cloud.google.com/service-infrastructure/docs/tenancy...

Amazon will probably go broad, not deep. And that can be (and is) leveraged by the right companies.

The trick will be differentiating within that space. Take hosted search - AWS Elasticsearch for example doesn’t necessarily prevent companies like Bonsai, Elastic, or Searchstax from standing out for the right use cases. Most importantly these companies can provide a lot of high end support and combine with other industry focused products and services (like Elastic XPack) that Amazon doesn’t provide for the niches these companies work within.

We probably need to assume Amazon will host X thing and work to find the niches deeper in X that need to be served.

The challenge is to convince customers to pay premium for services/products from i.e. Bonsai/Elastic/etc than to use a general purpose, darn cheap, Cloud-based offering.

Amazon scales. Niche does not.

Broad at first but nothing but time prevents them from going deep

I would imagine this should be a primary concern for a lot of companies operating in Google, Microsofts, and Amazon's cloud.

You are dealing with companies that have the power and money to become your main competitor overnight, and you don't know what kind of business intelligence they are gaining from you being on their hardware, and if there is espionage going on with your software and service. How honest are they being?

Judging by the size, scope, behaviors, and attitudes of the companies, I think it's turning into a risk to host on their platforms if you work in a space they may be interested into getting into.

My thoughts exactly. Also makes those who were a bit cloud-skeptical look a little less like the Luddites they were portrayed as. And I note that out of the handful of companies...

that I know well enough to comment on

that have a culture where protecting their intellectual property is important

that wanted "cloud"

that could afford to set up their own on-premises cloud

...all of them did so.

You don't need any espionage to implement and release the new Amazon Kafka product. Kafka is an open source package after all.

Profiting from any marginal gain from such espionage would be deterred by the huge reputational risk for AWS, were they caught.

You do need espionage to know how many of your customers are using Kafka on their EC2 instances to make that product decision though.

Yeah, it's getting tricky as an AWS user. Some of the stuff we're building will now be directly competing with Amazon as well. And they keep moving more and more in the direction of competing with stuff people are building on their platform.

That said, the name of the game is "Co-opetition"[1]. Everybody is simultaneously competing and cooperating.

Going beyond that though, it does lead us to wonder at what point it would make sense for us to move off of AWS and build everything on bare-metal, using our own servers in a co-lo center, etc. Of course that takes a lot more up-front $$$, and we wouldn't have the same economies of scale as Amazon, so...

Yeah, it's complicated.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coopetition

are there competitors to AWS that want to stay in just of cloud hosting?

Yeah, traditional hosting companies such OVH...there was rackspace as well but it's gone now.

ovh and hertzner are also vastly undercutting amazon in the EU.

Amazon is crazy expensive. especially if you consider the far lower labour costs in most of the EU.

There are lots of tiny shops that offer fairly basic cloud services, usually based on OpenStack. E.g. https://catalystcloud.nz

Kind of like taking your car to a local shop, vs going to the dealership.

Netflix does exactly that, despite being in direct competition with Prime Video. Of course, they have the advantage of being #1 in streaming TV/video.

Its been this way since the beginning. In the first wave of cloud services there were companies that built UIs to manage aws. Managed databases. PaaS offerings, queues, load balancers, etc, etc.

If it didnt make so much sense to keep building these tools yourself you would almost be able to suggest these other companies built expensive MVPs for AWS.

I dont fully agree, as others noted by here, there are plenty of products that compete with others and co-exist, for example terraform.

There are some things though that I bet their customers are asking badly, take for example the Transit Gateway, one might thing that it is trying to put out the vendors that users use for their Transit VPC, for example Cisco, Fortinet, Palo alto to name a few, however, the Transit VPC is ugly, tough to maintain and cant scale, yes, the vendors make big money from licences for Transit VPC, but the need of a native service was there, the vendors will still sell licences, just not for Transit VPC, they will be able to focus on other parts that AWS dont prodive a lot.

Aka the "Apple app store" and "Trader Joes" model of competition: Build a platform for other people to innovate on top of, then steal their best ideas after you've validated that they work well on your own platform.

trying to see how this is the Trader Joe's model.

i thought what Trader Joe's did was find food makers that sell products at other retailers (e.g. Naked Juice, sold for example at at Whole Foods) and then negotiate a deal with that same food maker to supply that same product to TJ's under the store label and at a lower price.

if I'm not mistaken, TJ's also develops its own product concepts (e.g. Thai Chili Cashew Nuts or their Winter blend coffee) in conjunction with some outside food makers and sells those in its TJ's stores too.

but, I'd be interested in finding some examples of where TJ's basically ripped off one of their own supplier's ideas and had it made by someone else for their store label. interesting stuff!

Hmm I was under the impression that they were ripping off those companies, but you could certainly be right. I just saw the pattern of (for example) Snap Pea crisps under a non-TJ brand get popular at TJ's, then TJ's labeled version comes out and the other one disappears.

You could be right too. I'm not sure.

Trader Joe's is very secretive about who supplies its products. When I google for something like "Who makes Trader Joe's $product" I find various articles that seem like they've actually uncovered suppliers in certain cases, and I think those suppliers are pretty willing to sell a version of their existing products at TJs for lower prices. But I certainly don't know the whole story.

One other thing I notice about TJs is that it does not carry a "full" product line like a normal grocery store. TJ's often seems to cherry pick or negotiate relatively good deals from outside food suppliers where they can. And if they can't do that, in many cases, they just don't offer that product at all. Still, they offer a wide enough product line to keep the customers flowing in.



This is absolutely correct, they have done for a long time. They look at what their customers build, see what grows a lot, and then build (often a shitty version) themselves. They don't even pretend to do otherwise, and everybody in the space knows it.

I was chatting to the CEO of a cloud product who went to reinvent and was relieved to find out that Amazon had not launched a competing product. But we both know it's a "when, not if" situation.

Part of the reason my new startup is on GCP. I don't want to AWS to have any of our internal growth numbers.

On the hand, AWS’s largest customer is Netflix. Amazon’s Prime Video is a direct competitor.

Reposting an earlier link.


Sometimes developers choose a niche that’s either directly in the path of the vendor, or even worse, on the roadmap of the vendor. In those cases, they don’t really deserve our sympathy.”

I remember reading, probably about 10 years ago, something by I think Tim Bray where he argued (I will have to paraphrase as I cannot find it anymore) that developing applications that would be beneficial to all users of a platform on that platform was a waste of time because it was to the advantage of the platform itself to replicate the functionality once it saw how well it was doing in the market.

Therefore if you do not want to compete with the same platform on which you've based your solution you should make solutions that are niche specific - I believe the example was a Apple and a dentistry service, because no matter how much revenue your dentistry service made Apple would not go and copy it because it had nothing to do with their business.

AWS is dominant and doing pretty well in the IaaS space, but lack of enough good quality middlewares and enterprise software comparing with its competitors, Azure and Oracle.

Maybe this claim is not fair for DynamoDB, Kinesis, Lambda and etc. But these are just managed service. Customers could not get a binary to play around on their own server. So I could not call them software or middleware.

So their strategy is simply making the most popular software running on IaaS as a managed service, like managed Hadoop, Spark, K8S and now Kafka...

From a customer's perspective, it is pretty good since managed service just works without hassles to manage servers.

While a lot of these offerings are subpar compared to their competitors. I think one big advantage AWS has it that I don't have to talk to a sales team to get something working. Like, go to Confluent's site. The business plan is request a quote; I am not a fan of this model at all, why not keep things self serve and pricing open. This makes your bootstrap time significantly longer.

Also, with AWS's offerings you get better management with security groups etc.

This is an ongoing trend. Same thing is happening right now with Twilio with their Flex offering competing with longtime customers such as Talkdesk.

This surprises anyone? Amazon retail has been competing with it's own customers (mostly in the form of Amazon Basics) for years now...

Amazon is also using their consumer goods sales data of their merchants to determine what products they should themselves profitably create and sell. For instance Amazon began directly selling Amazon branded DisplayPort to HDMI adapters after they determined they could profitably undercut the merchants on their platform. Unfortunately I can’t dig up the link.

Have you tried MyAirBridge? I find it to be the best provider for online data storage and sata sharing. Super reliable and safe

Coopretition is nothing new - look at every utility, telecom, cableco, and others - its a normal way of existing when markets and technologies are heavily interlinked.

This just in: Ditch digging business, which got into the shovel business, is also digging graves potentially competing with its shovel customers...

It's not just AWS that competes with its customers, it's Amazon in general.

A few thoughts. 1) This is nothing surprising. People who build businesses based largely around filling in gaps in AWS's managed services hopefully expect and plan on AWS to attempt to fill that gap if that niche truly is profitable.

2) AWS is going to build what its customers ask for. I work for a relatively big consumer of AWS services, and we have a great relationship with our customer support team, who connect us to the engineering teams building the tools we use, and without fail down to the team, they are always very interested in how they can better serve our needs and build products we want to use. And if they hear "Kinesis is fine for some things, but we really want to also do Kafka" from enough people, they will build a Kafka managed service, just like they built ElasticSearch service, a Redis service, an RDS. And why shouldn't they?

3) For customers, AWS's cost model is far better than most managed cloud services. I don't know anything about Confluent's managed Kafka offering, but having everything metered in tiny increments is a huge reduction in the barrier to entry. If we want to build on a managed Kafka platform, but we want to start slow and grow as we need, it's so much better to be able to just spin up a tiny version to try things out, tear it down, take a break for other priorities, then come back with more confidence and more experience and iterate into building something real. Whereas too many cloud services require a huge lock-in agreement up front before you can get any support, or often any service.

And it's not like the lock-in is necessary. These companies could be integrating their services to allow potential customers to leverage their AWS infrastructure. There's no reason these third parties can't use IAM credentials for authentication, and publish their services to customers over PrivateLink, a tool AWS built for explicitly this sort of purpose--to enable cloud providers to provide tight integrations with their shared customer base.

4) In terms of product quality, I don't think Confluent et al have anything to be worried about. AWS "competes" with Dropbox, technically, but is WorkDocs really serious competition? AWS's managed services have their place, but you can't use RDS to replace the flexibility and scale you can achieve by running PostgreSQL yourself. Their managed ElasticSearch and Redis products are okay, but ultimately very rigid, and nonsensical to use beyond mid-range scale. Their managed k8s service is something of a joke at this point (though I'm sure it will get better). If Confluent is truly offering a strong managed Kafka product, they will be just fine.

5) In fact, I suspect Confluent will get a lot more customers as a result of this announcement, as management at hundreds of mid-sized companies will now be convinced thanks to the AWS marketing that this Kafka thing their engineers have been begging for for years must be really key now, but they'll figure out how the AWS version doesn't quite live up and will end up being really expensive to scale to their company's needs. Then they'll look a little deeper and find Confluent. So I hope their marketing and sales teams are ready for the influx. It's coming.

Confluent would be fine for sure... Usually, the open source projects would have close-sourced "enterprise feature" to make money.

AWS’s managed FTP service too

In all honestly though, "SFTP-as-as-service" doesn't sound like a very sexy or sustainable business model.

Sure, not “sexy” enough for the HN crowd but it sucks to be these guys https://hostedftp.com since https://aws.amazon.com/sftp/ was announced

This is why public cloud companies should be more regulated like telephony companies are, ie like utilities. They give you broadband but not necessarily try to sell you 15 kinds of database engines, or trying to build the same things other businesses try to build using their lines.

It kills me that a website full of well paid people in IT who all benefit from the free market always cry for regulation.

I guess you don’t realize how many people in middle America would love to “tax the rich” and if you’re making six figures “they” consider you rich.

So it's ok to regulate telephony companies and cry out when they oppose net neutrality but it's just rage against the rich when people decry AMZN or MSFT that build the same services that their customers previously built on their infrastructure? It would be easy to make them decide - you either provide raw compute or you provide specialized P/SaaS (databases, etc.). Sure you could own two companies (IaaS and P/SaaS), but you would have to let other P/S on your Infra, without prefering anyone else. Result? Less vendor lock-in because of forced standarization between layers.

The cell phone carriers have never been regulated by net neutrality and I’m okay with that. There are four major national carriers, if one carrier is customer hostile, another carrier will pick up the slack. We saw just that with the rise of T-mobile.

Most people only have one company offering terrestrial internet. So yeah that should be regulated. It’s considered a natural monopoly.

Companies don’t have to depend on the major cloud providers - but there are at least three major ones and IBM and Oracle are making a play. There are even smaller providers that just host VMs like Linode. I can easily imagine Linode partnering with companies to provide managed services.

On top of that cloud providers hosting servers is dwarfed by the number of companies who are using colos. There are plenty of business opportunities out there.

So no, I don’t think that you should have regulation to protect a business model. Government regulation and monopoly regulation in particular was meant to prevent harm to consumers.

But you really trust the government to have sensible technology regulation?

As an aside, if you make six figures, you are rich.

Agreed. Plus many six figure salaries are attached to equal or greater amounts of equity, 401K match and typically low cost health insurance. So while it’s not jet-set wealth it is more than enough to have a very comfortable life with few things out of reach for you.

I’m not disagreeing with you. But you would be surprised at how many people in the HN SV bubble think that all developers living anywhere in the country who are only making $100-$150K are living in trailers scraping by.

The problem with crony capitalism is the crony part, not the capitalism part. So I agree that laws (usually passed by people with more self-interest than understanding) are almost never the optimal solution, by definition. Trouble is that we don't actually have a true free market, so the question becomes what is the best real-world solution, given the distortions/limits of the existing system?

I trust the capitalist a lot more than the government. Capitalist are motivated with making money the transparent way - people give them money and they give people goods and services.

The government is ruled by cronyism and even worse cow tow to people’s worse instincts, superstitions, and prejudices.

I like money as much as the next person, but your statement could perhaps stop at "Capitalist are motivated with making money" and still be mostly true. The other parts are optional.

The function of government is to make sure those other parts happen - that the capitalist doesn't take the money and not provide the goods (the courts, the police) or provide goods in one place at a low price by dumping toxic shit in another hurting people (EPA), tell you lies and get you to invest in their firm (SEC) or a million other examples. The burden in burdensome regulations is in the eye of the beholder.

Also remember that (at least in a democracy) we are the government. If you don't like what they're doing, vote the bums out. It's a little harder to vote out the plutocrats.

We are not a democracy. We are at best a Republic. A democracy would be one vote one voice. But in the Senate, there are two Senator for Wyoming (population 540,000) that have the same vote as the two Senators from California (population 39 million +). On top of that you have gerrymandering.

If you live in a populous city in a populous state your vote is worth much less than someone who lives in a rural city in a less populous state.

You’re also assuming as a fact that the court system and the police are not corrupt and can be trusted...

True capitalist just takes your money and does not give you anything since they like money so much.

Utilities are regulated because they are natural monopolies, not because they are large and profitable.

AWS faces plenty of competition. There’s a reason that the pricing schedules of the major cloud vendors are so similar.

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