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Amazon Announce Server-Side S3 REST Encryption: The Building Blocks Of Commodity DAM Systems?

by Naresh Sarwan on October 7, 2011

On Tuesday, Amazon, announced they were releasing a “Server Side Encryption” module for users of their S3 storage facility.  For less technical users, this means they created a method for software developers to encrypt or ‘scramble’ data when it gets stored on their Cloud servers so unauthorised users (aka ‘hackers’) can’t access potentially sensitive data.

In order to save you from going through all of this trouble (and to let you focus on your next killer app), we have implemented Server Side Encryption (SSE) for Amazon S3 to make it easier for you to store your data in encrypted form. You can now request encrypted storage when you store a new object in Amazon S3 or when you copy an existing object. We believe that this important (and often-requested) new feature will be welcomed by our enterprise customers, perhaps as part of an overall strategy to encrypt sensitive data for regulatory or compliance reasons.” [Read More]

What’s so special about that?  Well, two points.  The first more short-term one is it’s likely to be an attempt to reduce the collateral damage to Amazon from those who use Cloud hosting but can’t be bothered (or find it too hard) to implement decent encryption or security themselves (and end up placing their customer’s data at risk).  The second is the implications of not only this module but others they are introducing.  In February, we reported that Amazon had added versioning support to S3.  Versioning is a feature in more sophisticated DAM solutions that allows DAM systems to link different editions of the metadata or essence (file) of an asset together so end users can see its history (and potentially revert to a version too).

This means that a vendor who is prepared to nail their colours to the Amazon mast can incorporate encryption and versioning into their applications very quickly and easily.  One has to wonder what other services will follow?  Of course, if the developer wants to move elsewhere (away from Amazon), that could be more of a problem – but that’s the idea behind Amazon’s strategy (or so it appears to me).  Extrapolating this announcement suggests that Amazon (and other ‘platform’ providers) are likely to want to monopolise the application infrastructure and control the core services that a DAM or ECM system depends on.  The net effect  is to make it very easy to build highly advanced systems with a lot less effort (and cost) than building your own from scratch.  In early 2011 we discussed trends for the industry and postulated that the integration of operating systems with DAM techniques and metaphors could be a possibility.  That seemed plausible but still far off then, but if you take the “Cloud” to be the future of the OS also then perhaps it is becoming more likely and may be happening faster than I expected.

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