Werner Vogels

CTO, Amazon.com

26 minutes, 12.3mb, recorded 2006-06-23
Werner Vogels

Amazon is not a website anymore. It is a platform that enables its customers to develop on top of it. Look at the NBA Store, for instance. From the looks of it you cannot tell that it is built on top of Amazon until you either read the footnote or proceed to check out, which is when you're asked for an Amazon ID as an option for identification. Even Amazon continuously dogfoods its own services to build products on top of it.

When you're building a Web application that relies on services developed by a third-party, one of the major factors to the success of your business is the uptime and availability of the third-party service. At some point in time or another, everything can break -- hardware, data centers, nodes, computer systems, power backup, you name it. They are all susceptible to downtime. Everything breaks. Amazon does not.

Every week, the company puts its business continuity plan to test by simulating a drill in which one of its data centers burns down. Their goal is to survive data center outages for a long time without any impact to their customers, and so far they've been successful at it and they're getting even better at it every day. If every individual enterprise were to try installing that kind of infrastructure and ensuring 100% uptime, scalability, speed and performance, it would not only be re-inventing the wheel, but also would spend all its time in simply preparing the ground and eventually lose all its customers. Amazon brings that guarantee to all its customers so they can focus on their main job.

Werner Vogels, the CTO of Amazon.com, believes that uptime and scalability are dependent on how you build your application architecture and your hardware infrastructure. Amazon helps its customers achieve cost-effectiveness by providing them with a service-oriented architecture that scales enormously.

Dr. Werner Vogels is Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at Amazon.com where he is responsible for driving the company's technology vision, which is to continuously enhance the innovation on behalf of Amazon's customers at a global scale. Prior to joining Amazon, he worked as a research scientist at Cornell University where he was a principal investigator in several research projects that target the scalability and robustness of mission-critical enterprise computing systems. He has held positions of VP of Technology and CTO in companies that handled the transition of academic technology into industry. Vogels holds a Ph.D. from the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam and has authored close to 80 articles for journals and conferences, most of them on distributed systems technologies for enterprise computing.


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