Amazon recently announced the update to their incredibly popular Web Services facilities.
"New Amazon Web Services Offerings Give Developers Unprecedented Access to Amazon Product Data and Technology, and First-Ever Access to Data Compiled by Alexa Internet"
This has got me thinking about what Amazon have done and where they may be heading with these. Now I need to preface this by saying that this is purely speculation on my behalf, I have no knowledge about this stuff. These ideas are just my thoughts based on what I would do in their situation.
So far they have never charged for access to these services, however the second part of this announcement, about opening up the Alexa Internet data, does say that this will be free during the beta phase only. This poses interesting questions about how they will charge for it and what services they will offer for that. So far Amazon have not offered anything in the way of service guarantees [Web services without warranties - LooselyCoupled.com].
What would you want to see from them if you have to pay to access the Web Services? Well for me it would be a Service Level Agreement for a start with some indication of how to best support this. Obviously if you read the site regularly you'll see the next part coming. I want Reliable Messaging of some sort. Obviously not many people would be able to implement this yet so you are talking about different endpoints with different facilities (one with RM one without) therefore Amazon should offer the one without RM with a lower SLA.
Moving forward though, what else might happen at Amazon. Web Services technologies are maturing and they should be beginning to think about what these changes will allow. In v3 they opened up the shopping cart through Web Services, really all that's left is the very end of the process with user services and card payments.
The technical problems restraining this were a lack of reliability (solved with WS-RM or WS-Reliability) and security (solved with WS-Security and WS-I: Security Profile). With these out of the way, they could move forward.
Obviously the card payments cannot be opened up to everyone so this suggests the split of Web Service users into Tier One and Tier Two. The current users and systems are what Tier Two would be, simple, open Web Services. Tier One users would be strategic partners who want to completely brand the entire shopping process. There would have to be serious business agreements in place, as well as SLAs. The experience that Amazon will be gaining through the paid for Alexa services will set them up for this.
This would be a major step forward for the widespread use of Web Services in major business mission critical infrastructures. This time next year possibly?