Amazon Web Services
Type of site
|Key people||Andy Jassy (CEO)|
|Industry||Web service, cloud computing|
|Revenue||$17.4 billion (2017)|
|Operating income||$4.331 billion|
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments, on a paid subscription basis. The technology allows subscribers to have at their disposal a virtual cluster of computers, available all the time, through the Internet. AWS's version of virtual computers emulate most of the attributes of a real computer including hardware (CPU(s) & GPU(s) for processing, local/RAM memory, hard-disk/SSD storage); a choice of operating systems; networking; and pre-loaded application software such as web servers, databases, CRM, etc. Each AWS system also virtualizes its console I/O (keyboard, display, and mouse), allowing AWS subscribers to connect to their AWS system using a modern browser. The browser acts as a window into the virtual computer, letting subscribers log-in, configure and use their virtual systems just as they would a real physical computer. They can choose to deploy their AWS systems to provide internet-based services for themselves and their customers.
The AWS technology is implemented at server farms throughout the world, and maintained by the Amazon subsidiary. Fees are based on a combination of usage, the hardware/OS/software/networking features chosen by the subscriber, required availability, redundancy, security, and service options. Subscribers can pay for a single virtual AWS computer, a dedicated physical computer, or clusters of either. As part of the subscription agreement, Amazon provides security for subscribers' system. AWS operates from many global geographical regions including 6 in North America.
In 2017, AWS comprised more than 90 services spanning a wide range including computing, storage, networking, database, analytics, application services, deployment, management, mobile, developer tools, and tools for the Internet of Things. The most popular include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). Most services are not exposed directly to end users, but instead offer functionality through APIs for developers to use in their applications. Amazon Web Services' offerings are accessed over HTTP, using the REST architectural style and SOAP protocol.
Amazon markets AWS to subscribers as a way of obtaining large scale computing capacity more quickly and cheaply than building an actual physical server farm. All services are billed based on usage, but each service measures usage in varying ways. As of 2017, AWS owns a dominant 34% of all cloud (IaaS, PaaS) while the next three competitors Microsoft, Google, and IBM have 11%, 8%, 6% respectively according to Synergy Group.
The AWS platform was launched in July 2002.  In its early stages, the platform consisted of only a few disparate tools and services. Then in late 2003, the AWS concept was publicly reformulated when Chris Pinkham and Benjamin Black presented a paper describing a vision for Amazon's retail computing infrastructure that was completely standardized, completely automated, and would rely extensively on web services for services such as storage and would draw on internal work already underway. Near the end of their paper, they mentioned the possibility of selling access to virtual servers as a service, proposing the company could generate revenue from the new infrastructure investment. In November 2004, the first AWS service launched for public usage: Simple Queue Service (SQS). Thereafter Pinkham and lead developer Christopher Brown developed the Amazon EC2 service, with a team in Cape Town, South Africa.
Amazon Web Services was officially re-launched on March 14, 2006, combining the three initial service offerings of Amazon S3 cloud storage, SQS, and EC2. The AWS platform finally provided an integrated suite of core online services, as Chris Pinkham and Benjamin Black had proposed back in 2003, as a service offered to other developers, web sites, client-side applications, and companies. Andy Jassy, AWS founder and vice president in 2006, said at the time that Amazon S3 (one of the first and most scalable elements of AWS) "helps free developers from worrying about where they are going to store data, whether it will be safe and secure, if it will be available when they need it, the costs associated with server maintenance, or whether they have enough storage available. Amazon S3 enables developers to focus on innovating with data, rather than figuring out how to store it.". In 2016 Jassy was promoted to CEO of the division. Reflecting the success of AWS, his annual compensation in 2017 hit nearly $36 million.
To support industry-wide training and skills standardization, AWS began offering a certification program for computer engineers, on April 30, 2013, to highlight expertise in cloud computing.
James Hamilton, an AWS engineer, wrote a retrospective article in 2016 to highlight the ten-year history of the online service from 2006 to 2016. As an early fan and outspoken proponent of the technology, he had joined the AWS engineering team in 2008.
Growth and profitability
In November 2010, it was reported that all of Amazon.com's retail sites had migrated to AWS. Prior to 2012, AWS was considered a part of Amazon.com and so its revenue was not delineated in Amazon financial statements. In that year industry watchers for the first time estimated AWS revenue to be over $1.5 billion.
In April 2015, Amazon.com reported AWS was profitable, with sales of $1.57 billion in the first quarter of the year and $265 million of operating income. Founder Jeff Bezos described it as a fast-growing $5 billion business; analysts described it as "surprisingly more profitable than forecast". In October 2015, Amazon.com said in its Q3 earnings report that AWS's operating income was $521 million, with operating margins at 25 percent. AWS's 2015 Q3 revenue was $2.1 billion, a 78% increase from 2014's Q3 revenue of $1.17 billion. 2015 Q4 revenue for the AWS segment increased 69.5% y/y to $2.4 billion with 28.5% operating margin, giving AWS a $9.6 billion run rate. In 2015, Gartner estimated that AWS customers are deploying 10x more infrastructure on AWS than the combined adoption of the next 14 providers.
In 2016 Q1, revenue was $2.57 billion with net income of $604 million, a 64% increase over 2015 Q1 that resulted in AWS being more profitable than Amazon's North American retail business for the first time. In the first quarter of 2016, Amazon experienced a 42% rise in stock value as a result of increased earnings, of which AWS contributed 56% to corporate profits.
AWS had $17.46 billion in annual revenue in 2017.
- On March 14, 2006, Amazon said in a press release: "More than 150,000 developers have signed up to use Amazon Web Services since its inception."
- In November 2012, AWS hosted its first customer event in Las Vegas.
- On May 13, 2013, AWS was awarded an Agency Authority to Operate (ATO) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.
- In October 2013, it was revealed that AWS was awarded a $600M contract with the CIA.
- During August 2014, AWS received Department of Defense-Wide provisional authorization for all U.S. Regions.
- During the 2015 re:Invent keynote, AWS disclosed that they have more than a million active customers every month in 190 countries, including nearly 2,000 government agencies, 5,000 education institutions and more than 17,500 nonprofits.
- On April 5, 2017, AWS and DXC Technology (formed from a merger of CSC and HPE) announced an expanded alliance to increase access of AWS features for enterprise clients in existing data centers.
Significant service outages
- On April 20, 2011, AWS suffered a major outage. Parts of the Elastic Block Store (EBS) service became "stuck" and could not fulfill read/write requests. It took at least two days for service to be fully restored.
- On June 29, 2012, several websites that rely on Amazon Web Services were taken offline due to a severe storm in Northern Virginia, where AWS' largest data center cluster is located.
- On October 22, 2012, a major outage occurred, affecting many sites such as Reddit, Foursquare, Pinterest, and others. The cause was a memory leak bug in an operational data collection agent.
- On December 24, 2012, AWS suffered another outage causing websites such as Netflix to be unavailable for customers in the Northeastern United States. AWS cited their Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) service as the cause.
- On February 28, 2017, AWS experienced a massive outage of S3 services in its Northern Virginia region. A majority of websites which relied on AWS S3 either hung or stalled, and Amazon reported within five hours that AWS was fully online again. No data has been reported to have been lost due to the outage. The outage was caused by a human error made while debugging, that resulted in removing more server capacity than intended, which caused a domino effect of outages.
Availability and topology
Each region is wholly contained within a single country and all of its data and services stay within the designated region. Each region has multiple "Availability Zones", which consist of one or more discrete data centers, each with redundant power, networking and connectivity, housed in separate facilities. Availability Zones do not automatically provide additional scalability or redundancy within a region, since they are intentionally isolated from each other to prevent outages from spreading between Zones. Several services can operate across Availability Zones (e.g., S3, DynamoDB) while others can be configured to replicate across Zones to spread demand and avoid downtime from failures.
As of December 2014, Amazon Web Services operated an estimated 1.4 million servers across 28 availability zones. The global network of AWS Edge locations consists of 54 points of presence worldwide, including locations in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.
In 2014, AWS claimed its aim was to achieve 100% renewable energy usage in the future. In the United States, AWS's partnerships with renewable energy providers include Community Energy of Virginia, to support the US East region; Pattern Development, in January 2015, to construct and operate Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge;  Iberdrola Renewables, LLC, in July 2015, to construct and operate Amazon Wind Farm US East; EDP Renewables North America, in November 2015, to construct and operate Amazon Wind Farm US Central; and Tesla Motors, to apply battery storage technology to address power needs in the US West (Northern California) region.
AWS also has "pop-up lofts" in different locations around the world. These market AWS to entrepreneurs and startups in different tech industries in a physical location. Visitors can work or relax inside the loft, or learn more about what they can do with AWS. In June 2014, AWS opened their first temporary pop-up loft in San Francisco. In May 2015 they expanded to New York City, and in September 2015 expanded to Berlin. AWS opened their fourth location, in Tel Aviv from March 1, 2016 to March 22, 2016. A pop-up loft was open in London from September 10 to October 29, 2015.
In 2017, AWS launched a program in the United Kingdom to help young adults and military veterans retrain in technology-related skills. In partnership with the Prince's Trust and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), AWS will help to provide re-training opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and former soldiers. AWS is working alongside a number of partner companies including Cloudreach, Sage, EDF Energy and Tesco Bank.
- "Amazon Now Has Three CEOs". fortune.com. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
- Novet, Jordan (February 1, 2018). "Amazon cloud revenue jumps 45 percent in fourth quarter".
- Dignan, Larry (February 1, 2018). "All of Amazon's 2017 operating income comes from AWS".
- "Amazon Web Services About Us". Amazon.com. September 2011. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- "Amazon - Press Room - Press Release". phx.corporate-ir.net. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- "AWS Customer Agreement". Amazon Web Services, Inc. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- "AWS Global Infrastructure". December 22, 2016. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
- "What is Cloud Computing by Amazon Web Services | AWS". Aws.amazon.com. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- Rama, By Gladys; 8 January 2017. "Report: AWS Market Share Is Triple Azure's -". AWSInsider.
- "Amazon's $18 billion cloud business continues to crush Microsoft and Google — here's the latest scorecard for the cloud war".
- "Benjamin Black – EC2 Origins". Blog.b3k.us. January 25, 2009. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- "Amazon Web Services Blog: Amazon Simple Queue Service Beta". Aws.typepad.com. November 9, 2004. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- Bort, Julie (March 28, 2012). "Amazon's Game-Changing Cloud Was Built By Some Guys In South Africa". Business Insider. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- Jordan, Novet. "Andy Jassy is finally named CEO of Amazon Web Services". venturebeat.com. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- Balakrishnan, Anita (April 12, 2017). "AWS CEO Andrew Jassy's 2016 pay hits $35.6 million". cnbc.com. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
- "AWS began offering a certification program for computer engineers with expertise in cloud computing". www.pcworld.com. May 1, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "A Decade of Innovation – Perspectives".
- Coleman, Lester (May 4, 2016). "Amazon Web Services Teams with DCG on Blockchain Endeavor". CryptoCoinsNews. Retrieved April 25, 2018.
- Miller, Ron. "Amazon launches autoscaling service on AWS". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- "New AWS Auto Scaling – Unified Scaling For Your Cloud Applications | Amazon Web Services". Amazon Web Services. January 16, 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
- "AWS launches Arm-based servers for EC2". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
- "AWS launches a base station for satellites as a service". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-11-28.
- "2011 AWS Tour Australia, Closing Keynote: How Amazon.com migrated to AWS, by Jon Jenkins". Amazon Web Services. July 14, 2011. Retrieved December 16, 2013.
- "Cloud Computing 2013: The Amazon Gorilla Invades The Enterprise". Wikibon. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- "Amazon web services 'growing fast'". BBC News.
- Get Used to Amazon Being a Profitable Company Wired. October 22, 2015.
- "Gartner Reprint". www.gartner.com. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- Amazon’s earnings soar as its hardware takes the spotlight The Verge, Retrieved April 28, 2016.
- Revecka Natalia (May 25, 2016). "Wake up retail, it's not just 'Amazon Effect'".
- Daniel Roberts (May 24, 2016). "Here's why Amazon stock is up 42% in just 3 months". Yahoo Finance.
- "Amazon Web Services Announces First Global Customer and Partner Conference: AWS re: Invent". aws.amazon.com. May 9, 2012. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
- "AWS was awarded an Agency Authority to Operate (ATO) from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)". www.gsa.gov. May 13, 2013. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "US court rules for Amazon.com in CIA cloud contract dispute". Reuters. October 8, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- "AWS GovCloud Earns DoD CSM Level 3-5 Provisional Authorization". blogs.aws.amazon.com. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- "DXC Technology Announces Expanded Alliance with Amazon Web Services". Retrieved May 30, 2017.
- "The tech behind NASA's Martian chronicles -- GCN".
- Lohr, Steve. "The Obama Campaign's Technology Is a Force Multiplier".
- "Netflix Case Study". Amazon Web Services, Inc.
- "Summary of outage occurring April 20–22, 2011". Aws.amazon.com. April 29, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- "Summary of the AWS Service Event in the US East Region". Aws.amazon.com. July 2, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- "Summary of the October 22, 2012 AWS Service Event in the US-East Region". Aws.amazon.com. October 22, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- Bishop, Bryan. "Netflix streaming down on some devices due to Amazon issues". The Verge. Retrieved February 5, 2013.
- "Summary of the December 24, 2012 Amazon ELB Service Event in the US-East Region". Aws.amazon.com. December 24, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2013.
- "Summary of the Amazon S3 Service Disruption in the Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) Region". amazon.com. Retrieved March 2, 2017.
- A typo blew up part of the internet Tuesday CNET, Retrieved March 2, 2017
- "AWS Global Infrastructure". About AWS. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
- "Just how big is Amazon's AWS business? (hint: it's absolutely massive)". Geek.com. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- "Global Infrastructure". Amazon Web Services, Inc. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- Pomerantz, David. "AWS and Sustainable Energy". Amazon. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
- Burt, Jeffrey (June 10, 2015). "AWS to Build Solar Farm to Help Power Cloud Data Centers". eWeek.
- "Pattern Development Completes Financing and Starts Construction of Amazon Wind Farm Project in Indiana". Pattern Energy Group LP. Retrieved July 27, 2017.
- "AWS & Sustainability". Amazon Web Services, Inc. Retrieved April 6, 2016.
- "AWS Pop-up Lofts". Amazon Web Services, Inc.
- "Head in the cloud: Amazon Web Services' SoMa pop-up now permanent".
- Zipkin, Nina. "Why Amazon Added a Pop-Up Loft in NYC".
- "Like Target and Porsche, Amazon Web Services opens pop-up shop in NYC". May 19, 2015.
- "Amazon Web Services opens Pop-up Loft in Berlin". September 22, 2015.
- "Amazon's Pop-up loft heading to Tel Aviv".
- Tung, Liam. "Amazon gets startup-friendly with AWS Loft space in London | ZDNet". ZDNet. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- "AWS re:Start to teach digital skills to young people and military veterans". itpro.co.uk. Retrieved February 21, 2017.