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Summary:

New numbers from Netcraft show that the number of Amazon Web Services servers has exploded over the past 9 months.

Trying to assess just how enormous Amazon Web Services is has become a sort of parlor game among techies. Counting servers is as good a way as any to get a grip on its size and the latest to take a stab at that is Netcraft, which pegs the numbers of AWS web-facing servers at 158,000, up from 118,000 such servers in September, 2012. (Hat tip to Data Center Knowledge for pointing out this interesting research.)

Netcraft AWS metricsNetcraft also said the number of websites hosted on these web-facing AWS workhorses soared 71 percent to  11.6 million in may from 6.8 million in September. Gulp.

In other exploratory forays, just over a year ago an Accenture analyst, using his own methodology, put the total count of AWS servers at 450,000 or so, but that figure included boxes in the guts of the system, not just web-facing servers. In April 2012, researcher Deepfield Networks estimated that a full 1/3 of all internet users touched an AWS-based server at least once a day and that 1 percent of all consumer traffic moved either into or out of the AWS cloud.

Figuring out just what goes on within AWS often feels like the blind men and the elephant parable, with each researcher gleaning some information about the whole but none able to provide the whole picture. But the reason people keep trying is that Amazon itself does not provide details on just how much gear it uses. Only that it adds more and more of it all the time. You’re welcome to ask Amazon CTO Werner Vogels about all this at Structure later this month.

The sheer scope of AWS is freaky — and the fact that most people estimate that AWS is bigger than a $2 billion-a-year business now — is one reason every tech vendor HP,Oracle, IBM, VMware, Microsoft, and Google are fighting for their piece of the public cloud pie.

The more traffic AWS handles, the more it learns about user behavior patterns and the more it can apply that wisdom to tweaking its infrastructure design to reducing cost while also (shocker!) making money on it.  Talk about your virtuous cycles.

Netcraft AWS growth

  1. Can someone do a break down on how many of their instances are running Linux and Windows respectively?

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    1. there is a web site that does this… looking for it now. i know ubuntu linux is by far the leader among AWS instances.

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    2. Netcraft can provde this kind of data (including OS share etc.). That is what they do :)

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    3. What I heard is about 40% is running Windows, which would leave linux at most 60%, which I would not call ‘by far’.

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      1. @larry if you look at the chart here from Cloudmarket.com http://thecloudmarket.com/stats

        looks like Ubuntu has lion’s share of EC2 instances, followed by “other” linux, then windows then red hat and still “other” linux.

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        1. Thx for the reference.

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          1. I don’t know much about that company but an analyst i respect thinks their #s are legit. Interesting how big ubuntu is vs all the other linuxes….

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  2. Barb,
    please get your story straight. One time you say it’s $24B business (“yes, with a B”) in your previous article and another – repeating this $2B figure again.

    And yes, you keep ignoring Windows Azure again, even though it’s only 50% less of a business, even being few years late to the game.

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    1. My grumpy, aren’t we? The $24 billion figure mentioned in the other story is clearly stated to be estimated AWS revenue by 2022 (per Morgan Stanley). see here: http://gigaom.com/2013/05/29/killer-cloud-report-says-amazon-web-services-threatens-all-it-incumbents/

      The $2 billion figure is estimated AWS annual revenue now.

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    2. Go re-read the Azure numbers. The $1b number from MS included SPLA revenue. So it’s not Azure as a service, it’s the entire hosted Windows Server market. Azure does not make $1b as a standalone service.

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  3. trevor nace Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    You made the top 10 Tech Blogs of all time list! Congrats!

    http://techmarketingbuffalo.com/top-10-tech-blogs-you-should-visit/

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  4. Reblogged this on an accountant's perspective and commented:
    You know Amazon is a massive company but I just read this and when you take a moment to think it through you realise it is way bigger than you can even imagine! Great article.

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  5. Still no support

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  6. Hundreds of open Developer roles within AWS at multiple locations such as Seattle (HQ) and Cambridge, MA. AWS is also looking for Developers who have or can obtain TS/SCI clearance for our Herndon, VA or Seattle locations. AWS utilizes Java/Linux/C++ but we look for Developers with a strong object orientated background and an analytical mindset more than anything else. Thanks!
    Please visit http://aws.amazon.com for open roles. Help us revolutionize the Cloud!

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  7. Does anyone have a good estimate of how profitable AWS is? If AWS is generating a healthy margin on $2 billion of revenue (and a good return on invested capital), it means that the margins and return on capital of the rest of Amazon’s business must look really, really ugly, because Amazon’s consolidated financial metrics are mediocre at best.

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    1. profitabitabilty is the billion dollar question since amazon doesn’t break out revenue let alone profits or margins for aws.

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  8. Looks like we need a new performance counter for the System Monitor: servers added per second :)

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