AWS at 10: A look at how Amazon revamped the enterprise cloud computing pecking order

Amazon Web Services launched a decade ago and via a crazy cadence of new features and services altered the enterprise technology landscape.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Amazon Web Services turns 10 today and what looked like a quirky side venture by the e-commerce giant turned out to be its most profitable business and disrupted the way enterprises think about their data centers.

Today, AWS is in most enterprises as companies use the service for infrastructure, a development sandbox and a way to acquire compute and storage for big data and other uses. AWS' growth impacted the way IT stalwarts such as Microsoft and IBM viewed their businesses. Now no IT vendor can have a customer conversation without talking about the cloud and a hybrid approach that will include AWS in the data center mix.

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When AWS launched March 14, 2006 infrastructure-as-a-service was a nascent category. Software-as-a-service cloud providers were around and growing, but infrastructure was largely untapped.

After two years, it was evident to me that AWS had a lot of potential. I predicted that AWS would surpass Amazon's retailing business. In revenue, AWS isn't close, but a nearly $10 billion run rate business is nothing to sneeze at. More importantly for Amazon, the profit margins on cloud services easily eclipse e-commerce.

AWS CTO Werner Vogels served up 10 lessons he's learned from a decade at AWS. The lessons are to build systems that can evolve, expect the unexpected, don't get caught up in frameworks, automate, APIs are forever, know your usage, build security from the ground up, encryption is key, networking matters and don't rely on gatekeepers.

Perhaps the biggest lesson in the last 10 years is that enterprises don't have to be hamstrung by legacy infrastructure. The cloud can enable you to move fast and absorb innovation. AWS chooses to lead by example with a crazy cadence of new features and services that hasn't slowed from the early days.

The next decade for AWS will take the cloud infrastructure provider up the enterprise stack and bring more competition from Google, Microsoft and IBM, but there's nothing to indicate that the company is going to ease up. AWS has altered the enterprise IT vendor landscape.


Here's a look at a few key Amazon stats assembled over the last decade:

  • A million active customers in 190 countries.
  • AWS's database services are on a $1 billion revenue run rate not including Amazon usage.
  • Prices have been cut 51 times since AWS launched.
  • In 2015, AWS launched 722 new services and features. In 2011, AWS launched 80 and then doubled it in 2012.
  • Amazon S3 often peaks at millions of requests per second.
  • AWS has 33 availability zones and plans to add another 11 in the next year.
  • AWS has more than 70 services today.
  • AWS Marketplace has 2,500 software listings from more than 800 independent software providers.
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