— Andy Jassy, a 19-year Amazon veteran, is arguably
the most powerful man in the cloud.
heads Amazon Web Services, the cloud-computing division
that drives much of Amazon.com’s profitability and
that dwarfs most competitors, including ventures by
crosstown rival Microsoft and search giant Google.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who calls AWS a
"pillar," earlier this year upgraded Jassy’s
title to division "CEO."
an interview with The Seattle Times, Jassy said that AWS
could one day evolve to become an even bigger business
for Seattle-based Amazon than e-commerce because it’s
addressing markets potentially worth "trillions of
dollars worldwide." But a spinoff is unlikely
because there’s "no compelling reason" to do
so, the executive said.
comments come before re: Invent, AWS’ annual mammoth
Las Vegas conference, which runs through Friday.
than 32,000 are expected to attend, reflecting, in Jassy’s
words, the growing "movement" of builders
embracing the possibilities of the cloud. "It is
palpable when you’re there," he says.
an edited excerpt of the conversation.
AWS has evolved into a $12 billion business in a decade.
Why did it grow so quickly so fast? Was that growth a
I don’t think any of us had the audacity to predict it
would grow to be that big when we were starting it.
companies and startups had to lay up all this capital
for data centers and servers, and take your scarce
resource, which in most companies is engineers, and have
them work on the undifferentiated heavy lifting of
the cloud has done is completely flipped that model on
its head so that you only pay for what you consume. You’re
able to get work done so much faster than ever before.
and smaller companies got that revolution started, but
we always expected large enterprises and government
agencies to be very large AWS companies, because they
have very large amounts of infrastructure to spend.
Where is AWS now? Where is it going next?
We have a pretty significant market-leadership position,
and we’re not close to being done delivering
capabilities for our customers.
have a very broad geographic footprint, but we’re not
close to being done. Over time we can expect we’ll
have an AWS "region" (a cluster of data
centers) in practically every Tier 1 country and a lot
of developing countries as well.
have a machine-learning service that we launched about a
year and a half ago, and there are a lot of artificial
intelligence (AI) machine-learning capabilities coming.
We have a large number of people working in AI.
you look around homes and the workplace, there are all
these sensors in many devices. This is what people
commonly call the Internet of Things.
sensors have a small amount of (computing power) and
memory. Which means the cloud becomes disproportionately
important to supplement their capabilities. Most of the
big IoT cases today are built on top of AWS.
are at the start of what we think is possible. Over
time, many enterprises are going to think about their
own infrastructure as servers and also as devices they
use to collect data, do analytics and take action back
on these devices. So that’s another area of
significant investment for us.
What are the biggest bottlenecks you’re seeing?
There are only 24 hours in the day. There is so much
that we’re doing simultaneously. We’re going to
launch 1,000 significant services or features this year.
are hiring so many people all over the world and we have
a very high hiring bar. We’re not willing to
compromise in order to make sure we have the right
quality of folks. That always takes a fair quality of
focus and work from the team.
How do you see the competition? Who keeps you up at
the single biggest surprise is just how long it took for
other large technology companies to build an offering
here. I don’t think any of us believed, in our wildest
dreams, that we would have a six-year head start.
not a surprise to us that every large technology company
is trying to build an offering like AWS’ because it’s
such a good value proposition for customers. But the
offerings and the platforms are in very different spots
has a lot more capability and functionality than anybody
else by a large margin, and is also iterating at a
faster clip than anybody else. We have an impression we
use internally: There’s no compression algorithm for
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Tell us about re: Invent.
Re: Invent is different from the typical
technology-industry conference in that it’s not a
sales and marketing event, but about learning and
education. We will have 400 different sessions on
virtually every imaginable topic in the cloud.
first year (2012), we weren’t sure we could get 4,000
people to go. We’ll have 32,000 people there. It’s a
lot of fun, there’s a lot of community, we’ll
probably have some announcements there as well.
a kind of a movement around the cloud. It is palpable
when you’re there.
What are your thoughts on "moving up the
stack" (offering clients more sophisticated
applications beyond storage and computing power)?
increasingly see us build services a little bit further
up the stack. The ones we choose to add are the ones our
customers tell us they’d like us to build.
vast majority of applications that are really having
success in the market today are run by AWS partners. We
have a very large ecosystem of partners that cover the
gauntlet of applications that our customers love using.
Will AWS become the largest business within Amazon?
If it came to pass, it would likely take time. But I do
think it’s possible that in the fullness of time AWS
could be the largest business in Amazon.
of that is because, if you look at the market segments
AWS addresses — infrastructure software, hardware,
data center services, plus some capability to build
further up stack as well — that’s trillions of
a very large opportunity and we’re very optimistic
about where AWS will be in the long term.
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Could AWS operate as a company separate from Amazon?
AWS has always functioned as an independent, separable
business distinct from (Amazon’s retail unit): a
different customer base, a different leadership team.
Amazon, the retailer, is a really important customer of
AWS’, but they’re really one of several, very
of the reasons why Netflix, (which) competes so
aggressively with Amazon the retailer, is all in on top
of AWS is because Netflix knows and has seen that they’re
every bit as important to AWS as Amazon the retailer is.
never say never about anything, I’ve learned that in
my time here. But I don’t anticipate that we’ll spin
AWS out largely because there’s no compelling reason
to do so. Amazon has been so generous and so gracious in
funding AWS for whatever investment needs required that
there is really no compelling reason to do so.
Has AWS’ culture had to change much in order to better
serve enterprise customers? Over the last five or six
years we’ve had to build out a really strong
enterprise and public-sector capability.
But what enterprises have come to appreciate is that the
culture is really different. We’re unusually
customer-focused. We’re pioneers.
large technology companies have lost their will and
their DNA to invent. They acquire most of their
innovation. We like to hire builders that look at
customer experiences as flawed and figure out how to
we’re unusually long-term-oriented. You won’t see
our folks show up at customers’ doors the day before
the end of the quarter, or the day before the end of the
year and try to harass them into a sale not to be seen
again for a year. We’re trying to build relationships
and business that outlast all of us in this room.
Has the new CEO title changed things for you?
No. It’s all the same.
What about corporate succession at the top?
We’re really incredibly fortunate to have a leader as
strong as Jeff (Bezos). I’ve been at the company now
for 19 1/2 years and I will tell you that Jeff has at
least as much energy and passion for the business as he
did when I started in 1997.
will be running the business for a very, very long time.
We’re lucky that he will.
CEO, Amazon Web Services
Bachelor’s degree and an MBA from Harvard
story: Part of Amazon.com’s senior executive team
since 2002. Joined the company in 1997. Conceived the
company’s entry into the music business, was director
of marketing, served as technical assistant to CEO Jeff
Bezos, and in 2006 launched AWS, the largest computing
cloud business in the world.