Summary:

When Amazon launched S3 in March, 2006, no one with the possible exception of Jeff Bezos et al, thought that Amazon Web Services would become an IT juggernaut. Well, guess what?

birthday cake
photo: wfabry

Eight years ago Amazon, the online book seller, announced a storage service for the internet. That S3 service was the first of a slew of cloud-based products that Amazon launched and which, it can be safely said, shook the IT world to its roots.

Per the March 14, 2006 press release, S3:

“… is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.”

Tech is a fast-moving train, but it’s still sort of amazing that Amazon Web Services has been beating the IT giants at their own game; to cite the most blatant example, the CIA picked AWS over IBM to build its super-secret cloud. It’s done this partly by iterating and refining and churning out updates and new features at a prodigious rate — it claims 280 such updates last year alone. That’s not a model that legacy IT companies are used to.

AWS is now front of mind not only for IBM but for HP and Microsoft —  all of which hope to win enterprise accounts to their respective clouds. If those companies were not paranoid about AWS, I would really worry about them.

But, for those cloud watchers who assume AWS will ride its dominance into the next decade, look to history: Very few tech companies — Apple, IBM, Microsoft, and HP being four examples — have managed to continue to be relevant in more than two decades. Some of us older folk remember when Netscape Communications was going to unseat Microsoft, for example. And where is Netscape now exactly? Or WordPerfect? Or Software Publishing? Or Sun?

No one doubts that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, CTO Werner Vogels, SVP Andrew Jassy and the rest of the team are super smart, but that doesn’t mean AWS will steamroll ahead indefinitely. For one thing the legacy IT giants have woken up and see the threat for what it is. But more likely, the company that Amazon should worry about is barely a baby yet or has yet to be born.

To hear more about AWS, join us at Structure 2014 in June where Vogels will take the stage with Om to talk about the future of cloud.

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels and CEO Jeff Bezos on stage at AWS Re:invent

Amazon CTO Werner Vogels and CEO Jeff Bezos on stage at AWS: Reinvent

Feature art courtesy of Flickr user wfabry

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