Amazon Adds New Cloud Collaboration Service and Features for Developers at AWS Summit NYC

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Amazon Web Services has unveiled a range of cloud services at its AWS Summit in New York City on Thursday including a new business collaboration service, as well as features that make its cloud more appealing for hosting mobile app developers.

Zocalo Cloud Document Collaboration

Zocalo is Amazon’s new enterprise storage and sharing service, which allows individuals in a company to easily share documents. Named after “Zócalo”, the main square in Mexico City, Zocalo is designed to be a centralized place for documents. Users with permission can preview and comment on Microsoft Office files, PDFs, web pages, images, and text files directly in Amazon Zocalo.

But it also gives IT administrators the option of integrating it with existing corporate directories, and more control to institute flexible or rigid sharing policies, keep tabs on audit logs, and control of the location where data is stored. Contributors to a document stored on Zocalo can also be notified of new comments, changes and deadlines.

Documents on Zocalo can be accessed through a web browser, or through the Amazon Zocalo apps for iOS, Kindle, and Android.

Zocalo is currently available as a “Limited Preview”, and a waiting list is available for those wanting early access to the service. Zocalo will be available for $5 per user per month, which provides 200 GB of storage for each user. Zocalo with 50 GB of space will be included for each user of Amazon WorkSpaces (Amazon’s virtual desktop solution) for no additional charge. There’s also an option for WorkSpaces to upgrade to 200 GB of storage for an additional $2 per user.

Given Amazon’s recognition in the market, many consider Zocalo a serious contender against other cloud collaboration services such as Google Docs and Microsoft OneDrive, and cloud storage services like Box and Dropbox.

Cloudwatch Logs

Amazon’s monitoring service for AWS cloud resources and applications, CloudWatch, can now be used to monitor, store, and access application and system log files from Amazon EC2 instances or other sources in real-time.

For instance, CloudWatch can now be used to send a notification when an application’s logs show a certain frequency of errors, or an administrator can view raw log data to deal with a particular problem. CloudWatch also allows users to archive log data for later use.

Cognito Mobile Identity

Amazon has added a new mobile identity tool known as Amazon Cognito, which provides simple user identity and data synchronization which helps keeping app data in sync on all devices associated with a user identity, even as devices go on and offline, or someone is logged on from more than one device. Amazon Cognito also lets developers build apps where users start off as unauthenticated guests and then later sign in with Amazon, Facebook or Google without losing data they already entered.

Amazon Mobile Analytics

Amazon’s new Mobile Analytics service lets developers collect and analyze app usage data. It generates reports on active users, sessions, retention, in-application revenue, and custom events, which help developers understand user behavior and improve their apps around the customer experience. It is also designed to deliver usage reports within an hour of data being sent by the app, which is quicker than many other mobile analytics solutions.

Mobile Analytics is currently available to AWS customers, and processing up to 100 million events per month is free.

AWS Mobile SDK

In its push to make its advanced cloud features easier for developers to integrate with their applications, AWS has unveiled a unified Mobile Software Development Kit for iOS, Android, and Fire OS developers. It’s designed to provide easy access to Amazon S3 and Amazon DynamoDB as well as the new services like Amazon Cognito, Amazon Mobile Analytics, and Amazon SNS Mobile Push.

This SDK makes it easier for developers to connect their apps to storage and database services, as well as core functionality such as authentication, user management, notifications, and usage data analytics.

Customers can integrate Amazon Cognito and Amazon Mobile Analytics with their mobile apps using the AWS Mobile SDK or via API. Both services are initially available in the US East Region in North Virginia.

Amazon SNS Mobile Push “Time to Live” Notifications

Last year, Amazon launched SNS Mobile Push, a service that allows applications to send push notifications across different mobile platforms without having to integrate with multiple providers. This service was enhanced this week with the introduction of “Time to Live”, a feature that allows developers to set an expiry time for app messages of up to two weeks. This means that if a time-specific message isn’t able to reach an app user’s device by the specified time, the message is not delivered since it is no longer relevant.

AWS customers can use Mobile Push for Amazon SNS to send up to a million notifications each month for free. After a million, users are charged $.50 for every million messages published, and $.50 for every million messages delivered, or $1 total per million notifications successfully pushed.

The Big Picture: Adding More Functionality to Appeal to Enterprises

The service improvements introduced this week at Amazon’s latest AWS Summit must be seen in relation to Google’s I/O Summit last month, with Google being one of Amazon’s most direct competitors in the public cloud space.

Amazon has been particularly building out its enterprise functionality, which has been a theme in past AWS conferences including the AWS Summit earlier this year in San Francisco.

Amazon CTO and VP Werner Vogels remarked on the fact that half a decade ago, it became apparent that “internet-style companies” would have a tremendous speed advantage over enterprise companies, and this could lead to younger businesses overtaking them if enterprises didn’t find ways to compete.

Mobile, many believe, represents the future, and Amazon’s focus on mobile is something that will intrigue many businesses that are look for an edge. Of course, many other companies are vying to help enterprises in the mobile arena, including Microsoft with its Azure Mobile Services suite that’s clearly aimed at making it easier to integrate a cloud back-end with mobile applications.

Much of the new functionality introduced by Amazon this week will help the company convince enterprises that its technology is competitive and powerful, but not just for consumers and startups. This latest Summit is a reminder of how fiercely Amazon is competing to be a provider of cloud solutions for a wide range of consumers, both small and large.

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