Amazon Simplified Workflow Service: Useful DAM Building Block Or Cloud Provider Preparing To Eat DAM Vendors’ Lunches?

Amazon today reported that they have introduced SWF, which despite the TLA doesn’t have anything to do with Flash but means ‘Simplified Workflow Service‘.  The facility is available through their Cloud API and allows application developers to track various workflow states:

Today AWS launched an exciting new service for developers: the Amazon Simple Workflow Service. Amazon SWF is an orchestration service for building scalable distributed applications. Often an application consists of several different tasks to be performed in particular sequence driven by a set of dynamic conditions. Amazon SWF makes it very easy for developers to architect and implement these tasks, run them in the cloud or on premise and coordinate their flow. Amazon SWF manages the execution flow such that the tasks are load balanced across the registered workers, that inter-task dependencies are respected, that concurrency is handled appropriately and that child workflows are executed. ” [Read More]

Last year we reported about various other Amazon AWS application services which they were adding that extended beyond straightforward Cloud services.  In our 2012 predictions we also postulated that Amazon and other Cloud hosting providers could pretty soon start to compete with their own customers and/or make it very easy for new entrants to join an applications service market such as DAM.  This trend appears to now be about to play out.

I have discussed the possibility of a really large vendor getting  in on DAM before many times but so far one hasn’t materialised (give or take some acquisition action by Adobe).  It’s possible that despite the growth in this sector and demand for applications to help use manage the exponential increases in digital content more easily, it still represents a limited market opportunity to justify a new product for the industry leviathans.  An alternative (which it looks like Amazon have already grasped) is to provide the building blocks and platform and let others do that for you.  This side-steps all those messy support problems that DAM systems seem to generate with their complex user interfaces and multitude of competing user requirements.

Where it would get really interesting is if some other (perhaps open source) initiative built equivalent, compatible APIs but allowed the option to connect them to any Cloud provider or even other third party specialists.  It seems fairly clear to us, however, that the action in terms of sizeable market opportunity for DAM is at the back-end in the part the end user can’t see and generally doesn’t care about either.

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