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AWS: A Driving Force Behind the Cloud as We Know It

September 16, 2014

Every company seems to have its own unique definition when it comes to cloud computing. As the amorphous “cloud” and the infrastructure, platforms and services that populate it continue to evolve, so does the perception of what it is and the value it offers. But make no mistake, the cloud, or whatever it ends up being called in the future, is a very real part of the technology world. And we have Amazon Web Services (AWS) to thank for that.




AWS made its official debut in 2006, although the company came up with the idea in 2003. Having already experienced major success with its retail empire, Amazon began to investigate ways to standardize and automate its offerings by drawing on web services for tasks like storage. Since the company was already building out its internal network, the logical progression was to use their own infrastructure to power this vision.

But Amazon didn’t stop with fulfilling its own needs, and quickly realized the value of selling virtual servers “as a service,” thereby generating revenue to further build out its own infrastructure. For its 2006 launch, AWS offered a variety of online services to other web companies and billed for them based on usage. By 2007 the company said more than 180,000 developers had signed up to use its services and by 2010 Amazon had moved all of its retail web services to AWS.

The company is, and has always been the market leader for cloud infrastructure and has basically defined the entire premise of cloud computing based on a simple vision to streamline its own retail operations. Generating an estimated $3 billion per year in revenue, AWS comprises around 37 percent of the total infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market. The company is consistently named a leader by Gartner in its Magic Quadrant for Cloud IaaS, with Microsoft and its Azure IaaS offering the only other leader in the space.

AWS has undoubtedly paved the way for the IaaS market as it exists today, and plenty of big companies are stepping up to the plate to give the company a run for its money. Google and IBM are considered heavy hitters in the space, while companies like Verizon and VMware are also building momentum. And CenturyLink is also making waves in the space with the recent rumor that is considering scooping up beleaguered cloud player Rackspace to add to its impressive collection of cloud infrastructure and services companies, which includes Tier 3, Savvis and Qwest.

Beyond the infrastructure layer, AWS has opened the door for a whole host of cloud services and the software-as-a-service (SaaS) phenomenon. Everything from real-time communications solutions to security services to backup and disaster recovery offerings may be delivered as cloud services. This layer of the cloud computing realm is where most of the attention and development has taken place and what is transforming the face of the cloud as it is perceived today. But AWS is still powering a majority of these front-facing services and the company is still resting comfortably on its laurels – at least for the time being.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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