Debunking Myths on Amazon Web Services (AWS) Origins | Acquired
Unravel the truth behind the origins of Amazon Web Services (AWS), as this episode debunks the myth that AWS was merely a result of Amazon leveraging its excess server capacity.
Understand Amazon’s strategic approach to technology and the complexities of its infrastructure.
Unraveling the Excess Capacity Narrative
The common story of AWS being a result of Amazon leveraging its excess server capacity is overly simplified and fails to capture the complexities of Amazon’s infrastructure and strategic approach to technology.
The excess capacity story is a myth. It was never a matter of selling excess capacity. Actually, within two months after launch, AWS would have already burned through the excess. – Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon
Limitations to the ‘Renting Out’ Hypothesis
Contrary to the popular belief of Amazon renting out its unused server capacity, pre-cloud technology infrastructure was highly customized and tightly linked to specific applications, making it less practical to rent them out due to security and practical reasons.
Role of Linux in Infrastructure Transition
The advent of Linux, an open-source operating system, dramatically altered the information technology landscape by facilitating application execution on varied hardware.
This shift helped bring down tech costs significantly, aiding Amazon during a financially challenging phase.
Practical Issues with Excess Capacity Utilization
The excess capacity theory raises practical questions, such as how Amazon would manage to cater to AWS customers during the fourth quarter when it’s own retail demand would hit a peak, further questioning the viability of the excess capacity narrative.
AWS: A Separate Business, Not a Byproduct
AWS was always perceived as a distinct business line with the possibility to reach as high growth as Amazon’s retail sector.
This vision counters the excess capacity narrative, underscoring AWS’s strategic creation.
Investing in Technology, Not Just a Cost Center
Rather than considering technology as a mere cost center, Amazon viewed it as a significant investment.
This mindset was instrumental in the strategic creation of AWS, which aimed to gain dominance in the newly emerging market.