LAS VEGAS—When Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy took the stage at the cloud giant’s annual re:Invent sales conference here this week, he showed a slide with a photo of an IBM mainframe sitting in a driveway, along with boxes labeled Oracle and Microsoft. The joke—part of a long tradition of Jassy slinging barbs at rivals at the event—was that the companies’ products are getting dumped by customers switching to AWS.
Yet, despite the potshots, AWS allowed IBM inside its re:Invent expo hall, where Big Blue had a big presence this year and last. Inside its brightly lit space, IBM representatives eagerly offered demos of its latest cybersecurity and cloud application development services. It was a surprisingly cordial arrangement for two companies that competed head-to-head several years ago for a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency, which Amazon ultimately won.