AWS, Cloud

You’re probably aware that AWS is the top IaaS vendor today, with over 30% market share. But AWS is a vast universe, and there are many surprising and interesting facts about it that most aren’t aware of.

Most people outside IT and DevOps circles don’t know what AWS is, even though it powers many of the applications they use on a daily basis. And even if you do know AWS pretty well, chances are that you’re missing some interesting and important facts about its past, present and future.

Toward that end, here’s a list of things you probably don’t know about AWS, no matter what your background.

1. AWS started out as merchant.com

More than a decade ago, before AWS was the cloud computing juggernaut it is today, Amazon actually had much smaller ambitions for it. Amazon originally launched AWS as an e-commerce platform for other retailers like Target. Its website was www.merchant.com. If you had products to sell online, you just plugged your inventory into AWS, and boom, you had an e-commerce website ready in no time. After seeing the need for better management of backend infrastructure, Amazon overhauled their own infrastructure. Soon, they were ready to take on a few initial clients to test providing cloud services. The first product was AWS S3 for cloud storage, launched in March, 2006. The rest, as they say, is history. You can read about it all in this fascinating Wikipedia entry.

2. AWS makes the money, Amazon.com spends it

Amazon has a market cap of ~$750 billion, and most simply know it as the e-commerce company that it is. However, many wouldn’t know that the e-commerce side of the business is actually not profitable. It’s AWS that pulls in all the money for Amazon, giving the organisation room to expand the e-commerce side of the business. Most of its 100-odd acquisitions are on the e-commerce side, while there have been few acquisitions made by AWS. With a wide variety of products, AWS loves building its products and services in-house, rather than buying startups that offer the same services. However, some of its recent acquisitions have been ThinkBox, Do.com, Nice, harvest.ai, and Elemental.

3. Aurora is the fastest-growing product in AWS’ history

Jeff Barr mentioned in a blog post that Aurora is the fastest-growing product in the AWS stable. This is significant considering the level of entrenchment in the enterprise database market. Oracle leads the race as the leading database vendor today. However, there’s been a mass migration of databases from Oracle to AWS’ databases like RDS, Redshift, DynamoDB, and most of all, Aurora. Oracle is really concerned about this, and Larry Ellison didn’t mince words in his attack against AWS databases at the Oracle OpenWorld conference. Oracle may be the leading database provider on-premises, but in the cloud, AWS is #1, with Oracle in a distant #5.

4. AWS has a suite of business productivity apps

AWS primarily provides infrastructure as a service (IaaS); however, it also is diversifying into SaaS services. With thousands of employees globally, AWS prefers to build out its own office productivity apps for use internally. And if you’ve spent all the time and resources in creating these products, why not make some money off of them? Case in point—office collaboration apps like AWS WorkMail, AWS WorkDocs, and the meeting app AWS Chime. The leaders in this space are, of course Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google Suite, but AWS wants a piece of the pie.

5. AWS WorkSpaces frees your desktop

With all the conversations around mobile, often PCs can get left out. Yet, they are crucial devices, especially for large organisations. Aware of this, AWS has a service called WorkSpaces that lets users remotely access a virtual desktop environment running Windows 7 from another device. While it may not become the most sought-after service from AWS, it could easily find niche use cases for organisations that want to provide a secure, easily accessible desktop experience for its employees without buying more physical devices.

Conclusion

If you know AWS as just an IaaS provider, I hope this post helped you see some of the quirky and interesting facts about AWS that you might have overlooked. So, next time you’re having coffee with someone who has no clue what AWS is, maybe you could use some of these interesting facts to pique their interest.

  • Benjamin Wootton

    Co-Founder and CTO

    Benjamin Wootton is the Co-Founder and CTO, EMEA of Contino. He has worked with tens of enterprise organisations on DevOps transformation and is a hands-on DevOps engineer with expertise in cloud and containers.

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