Remember March 2006? George W. Bush was the president of the United States, Disney’s Ice Age 2 was released, the Blu ray disc format was launched, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter—still functioning perfectly today—entered Mars orbit, and four friends founded an interesting-looking social networking service called Twitter.
Oh yes, and Amazon Web Services—that’s AWS to you and I—was born, with the launch of its first Cloud service, Amazon S3.
Ten years on, AWS has over 70 such services, more than a million active customers each month, and Amazon S3 regularly caters for peak demands totaling millions of requests per second.
Computing at scale
Perhaps more to the point are a handful of sobering illustrations of the success of Amazon AWS as business inside Amazon.
First, AWS is the faster-ever IT business to reach a $10 billion run-rate in terms of revenues, hitting the $10 billion mark in just under ten years. By comparison, Microsoft took 22 years, and Oracle 27 years.
Second, on average, AWS customers are using more compute capacity on Amazon EC2 spot instances than customers were using right across all of Amazon EC2 as recently as 2012.
And third, analyst firm Gartner estimates that AWS has ten times more capacity than the next 14 cloud competitors combined.
However you look at it, AWS has scale. Serious scale.
What’s especially interesting is how AWS has evolved over this time. Amazon S3, the first AWS product, was simple Cloud storage: a gigabyte of storage for just 15 cents a month. (Now, by the way, that price is 3 cents a month.)
Servers by the hour came next, almost six months after S3. Amazon EC2 gave users a virtual CPU—the equivalent of a 1.7 GHz Xeon processor, with 1.75 GB of RAM—plus 160 GB of local disk and 250 Mb/second of network bandwidth. The price? Just 10 cents per clock hour.
A MySQL database followed in 2009, badged as Amazon RDS. You have unstructured data, not suitable for SQL? Not a problem: try Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon’s Big data NoSQL flagship, launched in 2012.
And also in 2012: Amazon Redshift, Amazon’s data warehouse in the Cloud, and a product very close to our hearts here at Matillion. A data warehouse built in minutes, rather than months (or even years)? You’d better believe it.
Ratcheting-up the pace
And the pace of innovation has continued—and even accelerated.
Back in 2011, AWS was launching 80 new features a year—that’s almost two a week. The following year, it was twice that: 160.
And last year, over 720 new features were launched. Forget two a week—that’s almost two a day.
Overall, as noted above, AWS now offer over 70 discrete services, including 2015’s AWS IoT, Amazon’s Internet of Things hub.
And, of course, AWS services are interconnected, not standalone. An Amazon Redshift data warehouse linked to the billions of devices on the Internet of Things? Again, you’d better believe it.
The Cloud is now conventional wisdom
The takeaway from all this? It’s difficult to disagree with the words of Jeff Barr, Amazon’s AWS chief evangelist.
Ten years ago, he observed, the debate about cloud services such as storage and servers was around risk. Security risks, business continuity risks, and technology risks.
New and unproven, the general perception was that the Cloud raised more questions than it answered.
No longer. These days, says Barr, he hears more talk about the risk of not going to the Cloud.
And when you look at AWS’ remarkable rate of progress, it’s not difficult to see why.
So the next ten years should be fascinating.
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