In March 2006 James Hamilton was the general manager of an anti-spam email platform owned by Microsoft. When he saw the news that Amazon.com –the company most notably known at the time as an ecommerce bookseller – had released a new cloud-based storage system, he had to investigate.
Hamilton wrote an app and stored it in Amazon’s Simple Storage Service. He was flabbergasted. He spun up all the storage resources he needed with a credit card and automatically got a multi-data center redundant storage system. His first month’s bill was $3.08. He was convinced that Amazon S3 was “the beginning of a new era in computing.”
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The launch of Amazon S3 on March 14, 2006 – 10 years ago today - set off a wave of innovation that has disrupted traditional technology vendors and ushered in a new market of infrastructure as a service cloud computing.
While managed service hosting has been around for decades, Hamilton (who now serves as a distinguished engineer for Amazon) says there are a couple of factors that made – and continue to make – AWS special. For one thing, it’s inexpensive and easy to get started. Mastering it and using it on an enterprise-wide skill undoubtedly takes investment and learning, but getting started is easy. Secondly, it is from a company that has not traditionally been an IT vendor, so Amazon is not beholden to legacy systems and ways of doing business. “A different supplier, a different model, a low friction provisioning path, and a fundamentally different price that starts low and falls rather than escalates over time,” are as some of the key virtues of AWS Hamilton describes in a blog post commemorating the service’s decade of existence.
Today some of AWS’s big shots are recalling the past decade since Amazon launched S3. Jeff Barr, the AWS evangelist goes over some of the other highlights on the timeline. Soon after S3, Amazon launched Elastic Compute Cloud – it’s virtual machines as a service. In 2009 Amazon announced its Relational Database, and in 2013 its data warehouse named RedShift. AWS Kenesis and Lambda, a real-time streaming tool and event-driven computing platform have pushed the envelope in the IaaS market over the past two years.
And building it all has been quite a feat too. Amazon CTO Werner Vogels recalls 10 lessons he’s learned from building Amazon’s cloud, such as: Build a system that evolves; automation is key; have an API (application programming interface) for everything; and “encryption is a first-class citizen.”
Along with companies like Salesoforce.com – which is largely credited with pioneering the software as a service market – Amazon has done as much as any company to advance the market for cloud computing services. And so much of that came started 10 years ago today.