Amazon Web Services' Kevin Miller talks strategy, AI and plans for the region
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AWS’ Kevin Miller on AI, sustainability and plans for the region

AWS’ Kevin Miller on AI, sustainability and plans for the region

In an interview with Gulf Business, Kevin Miller, VP – Global Data Centres at Amazon Web Services (AWS), delves into the company’s significant expansions and strategic initiatives in the MENAT region

Neesha Salian
Amazon Web Services' Kevin Miller talks about the company's growth in the region

In an interview with Gulf Business, Kevin Miller, VP – Global Data Centres at Amazon Web Services (AWS), delves into the company’s significant expansions and strategic initiatives in the MENAT region.

With new data centres and substantial investments, AWS is poised to support the region’s digital transformation and economic diversification goals.

Here, Miller discusses the strategic importance of these expansions, the unique challenges and opportunities in MENAT, and how AWS’s cutting-edge technologies, like generative AI, are transforming industries. Additionally, he sheds light on AWS’s sustainability commitments and their alignment with regional goals.

Amazon Web Services has recently announced significant expansions, including new data centres in various regions. Tell us the strategic importance of these expansions, particularly in the MENAT (Middle East, North Africa and Turkey) region.

Amazon Web Services infrastructure serves 245 countries from 33 primary locations. We call these locations AWS Regions, and the Regions include 105 Availability Zones (one or more discrete data centres with redundant power, networking, and connectivity in an AWS Region). In the Middle East, we have Regions in Bahrain and the UAE.

In addition to Regions, we have one Local Zone, five AWS Direct Connect locations (two each in UAE and Bahrain, and one in Oman), and six CloudFront edge locations (Muscat, UAE 1, UAE 2, Bahrain, Turkey, and Egypt) in the Middle East.

Our upcoming AWS infrastructure Region in Saudi Arabia is a key part of our strategy. This new Region, expected to be operational by 2026, represents a planned $5.3bn investment and will consist of three Availability Zones. Our expansion supports Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, aiming to diversify the economy and promote technological innovation and entrepreneurship.

The new Region will enable organisations in the region to run workloads and store data locally, providing lower latency and enhancing performance and security.

What unique challenges and opportunities does the MENAT region present for AWS?

According to a recent study by Telecom Advisory Services, accelerated adoption of cloud services could unlock $733.1bn of additional economic value in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) by 2033, representing 1.14 per cent of MENA’s cumulative gross domestic product (GDP).

As countries in the region strive to diversify their economies, AWS helps foster innovation and entrepreneurship across various sectors, including healthcare, education, and finance. We are seeing growing interest in AI, ML, and the Internet of Things (IoT) from organisations in the region, and AWS offers many specialised services that can meet the evolving needs of businesses and organisations.

Amazon Web Services has achieved many internationally recognised certifications and accreditations, demonstrating compliance with third-party assurance frameworks. AWS supports 143 security standards and compliance certifications, helping satisfy compliance requirements for virtually every regulatory agency around the globe. This is backed by a deep set of cloud security tools, with over 300 security, compliance, and governance services and key features — more than any other cloud provider.

Amazon Web Services recently concluded a $4bn investment in Anthropic to advance generative AI. Can you discuss how this partnership is expected to benefit AWS customers?

Together, Amazon and Anthropic are helping global organisations deploy generative artificial intelligence. Anthropic’s visionary work with generative AI, most recently the introduction of its state-of-the-art Claude 3 family of models, combined with AWS’s best-in-class infrastructure and managed services like Amazon Bedrock, gives customers opportunities to quickly, securely, and responsibly innovate with generative AI.

This strategic collaboration is designed to bring together our respective industry-leading technology and expertise in safer generative AI to accelerate the development of Anthropic’s future foundation models and make them widely accessible to AWS customers.

Global organisations of all sizes, across virtually every industry, are already using Amazon Bedrock to build their generative AI applications with Anthropic’s Claude AI.

Read: ‘AI can serve the greater good’, says Amazon CTO Dr Werner Vogels

What role does AWS’s infrastructure, such as Trainium and Inferentia chips, play in supporting generative AI advancements such as the ones that are being developed by Anthropic?

Amazon Web Services has been innovating with chip development for a decade now, delivering several generations of chips and infrastructure to run AI workloads and accelerate the production of AI.

We provide the broadest and deepest choice of Amazon EC2 instances featuring AI chips, including the latest NVIDIA GPUs, Trainium, and Inferentia2.

With each successive generation of chips, AWS delivers better price performance and energy efficiency. AWS Trainium is a high-performance machine learning chip designed to reduce the time and cost of training generative AI models—cutting training time for some models from months to hours. This means building new models requires less money and power, with potential cost savings of up to 50 per cent and energy-consumption reductions of up to 29 per cent, versus comparable instances.

Our second-generation Trainium2 chips are designed to deliver up to four times faster training than first-generation Trainium chips while improving energy efficiency up to two times. AWS Inferentia is our most power-efficient AI inference chip.

Our Inferentia2 AI accelerator delivers up to 50 per cent higher performance per watt and can reduce costs by up to 40 per cent against comparable instances.

Tell us how generative AI, particularly through AWS’s services such as Amazon Bedrock, is transforming industries.

More than 100,000 global customers across industries – including Adidas, New York Stock Exchange, Pfizer, Ryanair and Toyota – are using AWS AI and ML services to reinvent experiences for their customers.
In the UAE, GEMS Education is one of the largest private K–12 operators in the world. Using AWS AI and ML services, GEMS developed an all-in-one integrated educational technology platform called LearnOS. This platform supports teachers and creates personalised learning experiences.

With the use of Amazon Rekognition, they reduced 93 per cent of the time spent on marking attendance. They also developed an automated quiz generation and assessment platform using Amazon EC2 and Amazon SageMaker. In addition, GEMS’s algorithms can predict student year-end performance with up to 95 per cent accuracy and recommend personalised reading materials.

Amazon Web Services has made substantial commitments to sustainability, including integrating renewable energy into its operations. Can you outline AWS’s current sustainability initiatives? How do these initiatives align with the sustainability goals of local and national governments in regions like the UAE?

Amazon Web Services is on a path to powering our operations with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, as part of our commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. To support this, we have invested in numerous renewable energy projects, including solar and wind farms, around the world. AWS has over 500 renewable energy projects globally, which represents 28 gigawatts (GW) of clean energy capacity, enough to power millions of homes annually. In 2023, Amazon was the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy for the fourth year in a row.

These sustainability initiatives align closely with regional and national government goals. By integrating renewable energy into our operations and investing in new projects, AWS supports these national objectives, including the UAE’s vision of a sustainable future. Our renewable energy projects not only help AWS meet our sustainability goals but also foster local clean energy industries and create jobs in the renewable energy sector.

Additionally, AWS has launched several programs and tools to help our customers reduce their environmental impact. The AWS Customer Carbon Footprint Tool provides detailed insights into the carbon emissions associated with their AWS usage, enabling them to make informed decisions to optimise their workloads for sustainability.

The UAE has ambitious digital transformation goals. How is AWS positioning itself to support these ambitions?

Amazon Web Services estimates that the AWS Middle East (UAE) Region will support nearly 6,000 full-time jobs annually at external vendors through investment of Dhs20.1bn ($5.47bn) with an estimated economic impact on the UAE’s GDP of Dhs41bn ($11.16bn) by 2037.

Amazon Web Services is also committed to building local capacity and expertise in cloud computing. Our training and certification programmes, such as AWS Academy and AWS Educate, are designed to equip students, developers, and IT professionals in the UAE with the skills needed to thrive in a digital economy.

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