Amazon Web Services celebrates 8 years in the cloud

In less than a decade, Amazon Web Services has changed our view of cloud computing

Believe it or not, it was eight years ago that Amazon Web Services' S3 (Simple Storage Service) went into production. At the time, the promise was revolutionary:

Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. It's designed to make Web-scale computing easier for developers. Amazon S3 provides a simple Web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the Web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of websites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

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Where were you when AWS started production eight years ago? I was the CEO of a cloud computing company and had just left another cloud computing company where I was CTO. The cloud existed well before AWS, but somehow AWS was able to ignite the market, then dominate it.

The unique aspect of AWS is that Amazon.com pushed ahead with its own way of doing cloud, rather than try to replicate the work of others. Storage as a service was around then, but AWS's use of well-defined APIs made the difference. Moreover, AWS presented the value case to developers, helping embed the notion of storage services into actual software. Finally, the Amazon name mattered greatly, thanks to the company's reputation for having excellent internal technology that supported an amazing scale of operations.

Today, AWS holds the majority of the IaaS market. The runners-up -- Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Microsoft, in no particular order -- are way behind. I suspect, to that crew, AWS's eight-year anniversary is no cause for celebration. The truth is that Amazon saw the cloud opportunity first, delivered on that opportunity, and now has a substantial lead.

However, if there is a downside to being No. 1: You have to keep it up. You always have to be innovating to keep your services fresh and interesting to the marketplace -- and that's very tough to do. Indeed, the toughest years for AWS lie ahead, as more competition enters the market.

I suspect AWS will make some mistakes -- it's made some in the past, after all. However, it's been my experience that if you keep up the work ethic and focus on out-innovating rather than outspending your competitors, good things happen.

This article, "Amazon Web Services celebrates 8 years in the cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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