15 sites you know, that you may not know are based on Amazon Web Services

Have you ever wanted to know the inside stories of some of the world's largest sites -- and the infrastructure they use to host them? If so, this is for you!
Written by David Gewirtz, Senior Contributing Editor

Amazon fascinates me. The company manages to build services around what most companies would have historically just considered cost centers, and the Amazon Web Services operation is no exception.

AWS comes out of Amazon's own need to build out its infrastructure; they just figured out how to monetize it. In the process, they've managed to pretty much own the cloud services world, playing host to some of the world's biggest sites.

I recently found a fascinating (if hype-filled) listing of many of the sites Amazon hosts and what makes it even more interesting is there are videos from many of the IT managers of those sites explaining how they've used AWS. 


Netflix is responsible for 31.62 percent of all downstream Internet traffic in the United States due to its incredibly popular video streaming service. What makes this story even more interesting is that Netflix runs its video streaming service on AWS -- and Amazon is a direct competitor with Amazon video. I have to tell you that if I were at Netflix, this competitive/cooperative arrangement probably would keep me up at night. Frankly, this seems like an ideal opportunity for Microsoft Azure, given that Microsoft is unlikely to be offering a streaming video service anytime soon.


Reddit is an incredibly popular site among the faithful. What I found amazing from this video was just how small the company is, given its amazing reach.


While Pinterest has yet to catch my interest (and that of many guys), it's a wildly popular bookmark sharing service that apparently owes some of its success to AWS.


Speaking of Microsoft, Expedia began its history as a Microsoft division, but was later sold off. Today, Expedia runs on Amazon.


SmugMug is the fine photo sharing site with the odd little name. It started in a bedroom and managed to grow into a force in the photo sharing world. We actually have two stories for you on SmugMug. Here's the second one:


Look, let me get this out of the way first: my wife wants a new Prince of Persia game. Yes, we know that Assassin's Creed: Peoria is the next big thing, but she loves the wall-running and jumping. In any case, famed game-maker Ubisoft runs some of its online services on Amazon. Of course, now that the Xbox One has Xbox Live servers running on Azure, you can be sure that the game servers (at least on the Xbox side) are running on Microsoft.

 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

And now, for a completely different kind of virus. The CDC is one of America's (and the world's, frankly) first responders for terrible disease. They use AWS to help make that response efficient.


SAP has some amazing software-based solutions that are platform agnostic. They are apparently delivering some of their off-premises solutions via Amazon.


If you're all craftsy, you probably use Etsy. This hand-crafted goods and supplies marketplace is another AWS-hosted site.


Let's say you want to travel to San Francisco or Paris, but don't have a buddy there upon who's (whom's?) floor you can crash on. Airbnb lets you rent rooms from regular ol' folks (you rolls yer dice and you takes yer chances), but for a site that's grown so fast, it works out pretty well due to the rating system that runs… you guessed it… on AWS.


Autodesk, that maker of 3D software responsible for designing all those wonderful toys (and lots of other stuff) runs some of its services on AWS.


Adobe just plain stopped selling boxed software for its main professional graphics tools. If you want them, you need to use Adobe's Cloud services, which means you're using AWS.


There's a wide, wide world of MOOCs out there (massively open online classes) and Coursera is one of the major players. It also uses AWS.


I have a personal relationship with Flipboard, in that I pretty much only use the program in the "throne room." Hey, if you're going to go paperless, you're still going to want to, uh, go, and you're still going to want to read. Thankfully, leaving the scatalogical euphemisms behind, Flipboard is an AWS user. Just make sure you flip it closed when you're done. What??


Dropcam, perpetrators of more baby, puppy, and kitten videos than we have time to "Ooh" and "Ah" over is an AWS service. They use AWS to get those videos to their customers.

The best of the rest

Image courtesy GraphicStock.

There are also a surprising number of additional sites that use AWS. We don't have confessional videos from them, so I just provided you with a list of links to their stories on AWS. They're obviously a little sales-ish in nature, but this is still an amazing view inside the cloud operations of a wide range of different players.

The only major Web property that seems to have gotten away from our case studies study is Dropbox. We've got some evidence that Dropbox runs on AWS, but we don't have a case study. Oh, well. Next time.

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