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Inaugural AWS re:Invent show to highlight AWS security issues

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will headline this week's first-ever AWS re: Invent cloud computing conference, where several sessions will cover security issues.

LAS VEGAS – It's good to be Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos.

Not only did the retail arm of Bezos's online conglomerate report record sales for its line of Kindle tablets on Cyber Monday, but Bezos also graces the cover of the Dec. 3 edition of Fortune magazine as its 2012 businessperson of the year.

With the wind seemingly at his back, Bezos will be the biggest name to take the stage this week at Amazon Web Services (AWS) re: Invent, the Seattle-based company's inaugural cloud computing conference.

The event, geared toward customers and partners of its burgeoning cloud computing service, promises to deliver "everything needed to thrive in the AWS Cloud," according to event organizers.

While Amazon doesn't release financial figures for AWS, the business unit by all accounts has enjoyed impressive growth. In an Investor's Business Daily report this week, financial analyst firm R.W. Baird called AWS a "potentially under-appreciated asset" that will likely generate $1.5 billion in revenue in 2012.

Opening Wednesday with a keynote address by AWS Senior Vice President Andy Jassy, the conference will feature sessions led by Amazon technical experts on a variety of cloud computing topics, as well as partners and industry experts.

Bezos himself will take the stage Wednesday in what's being billed as a "fireside chat" alongside Amazon CTO Werner Vogels. Other notables slated to speak this week include Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, whose company is the industry's most well-known AWS customer, SAP AG President Sanjay Poonen and NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory CTO Tom Soderstrom.

To its credit, AWS re: Invent is by no means glossing over AWS security issues, as nearly a dozen sessions are slated to cover cloud computing security.

AWS has unveiled a variety of security initiatives this year. On the product front, April saw the introduction of the AWS Marketplace, which allows customers to launch any of a number of software products and SaaS services in their EC2 environments with a single click. The offering launched with several security applications as options, including a virtual appliance from Check Point Software Technologies, SaaS endpoint protection from McAfee Inc., and SaaS network IDS and vulnerability assessment from Alert Logic Inc.

In July, AWS joined the CSA STAR program, an online registry where cloud providers voluntarily submit documentation of their security controls. Industry observers lauded Amazon for joining, calling it a significant step forward in regard to the transparency of the cloud giant's risk and compliance practices.

However, AWS has faced some recent scrutiny. According to published reports, an online dating company abandoned AWS in June after major storms caused power outages and knocked out service in one of Amazon’s U.S. East-1 Availability Zones. Netflix and other major customers, despite disruptions to their businesses, continue to remain "bullish on the cloud."

Late last year, researchers discovered flaws in AWS that they claimed could enable an attacker to access users' accounts and data. Amazon said the vulnerabilities were quickly repaired and no customers were affected.

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