AWS finds generous mention in Amazon’s letter to shareholders.
Just over 10 years ago, AWS started in the U.S. with its first major service, a simple storage service. Today, AWS offers more than 70 services for compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile, Internet of Things, and enterprise applications. We also offer 33 Availability Zones across 12 geographic regions worldwide, with another five regions and 11 Availability Zones in Canada, China, India, the U.S., and the U.K. to be available in the coming year. AWS started with developers and startups, and now is used by more than a million customers from organizations of every size across nearly every industry — companies like Pinterest, Airbnb, GE, Enel, Capital One, Intuit, Johnson & Johnson, Philips, Hess, Adobe, McDonald’s, and Time Inc.
AWS is bigger than Amazon.com was at 10 years old, growing at a faster rate, and — most noteworthy in my view — the pace of innovation continues to accelerate — we announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015, a 40% increase over 2014.
Many characterized AWS as a bold — and unusual — bet when we started. “What does this have to do with selling books?” We could have stuck to the knitting. I’m glad we didn’t. Or did we? Maybe the knitting has as much to do with our approach as the arena. AWS is customer obsessed, inventive and experimental, long-term oriented, and cares deeply about operational excellence.
Given 10 years and many iterations, that approach has allowed AWS to rapidly expand into the world’s most comprehensive, widely adopted cloud service. As with our retail business, AWS is made up of many small teams with single-threaded owners, enabling rapid innovation. The team rolls out new functionality almost daily across 70 services, and that new functionality just “shows up” for customers — there’s no upgrading.
Many companies describe themselves as customer-focused, but few walk the walk. Most big technology companies are competitor focused. They see what others are doing, and then work to fast follow. In contrast, 90 to 95% of what we build in AWS is driven by what customers tell us they want. A good example is our new database engine, Amazon Aurora. Customers have been frustrated by the proprietary nature, high cost, and licensing terms of traditional, commercial-grade database providers. And while many companies have started moving toward more open engines like MySQL and Postgres, they often struggle to get the performance they need. Customers asked us if we could eliminate that inconvenient trade-off, and that’s why we built Aurora. It has commercial-grade durability and availability, is fully compatible with MySQL, has up to 5 times better performance than the typical MySQL implementation, but is 1/10th the price of the traditional, commercial-grade database engines. This has struck a resonant chord with customers, and Aurora is the fastest-growing service in the history of AWS. Nearly this same story could be told about Redshift, our managed data warehouse service, which is the second fastest growing service in AWS history — both small and large companies are moving their data warehouses to Redshift.
Our approach to pricing is also driven by our customer-centric culture — we’ve dropped prices 51 times, in many cases before there was any competitive pressure to do so. In addition to price reductions, we’ve also continued to launch new lower cost services like Aurora, Redshift, QuickSight (our new Business Intelligence service), EC2 Container Service (our new compute container service), and Lambda (our pioneering server-less computing capability), while extending our services to offer a range of highly cost-effective options for running just about every type of application or IT use case imaginable. We even roll out and continuously improve services like Trusted Advisor, which alerts customers when they can save money — resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in savings for our customers. I’m pretty sure we’re the only IT vendor telling customers how to stop spending money with us.
Whether you are a startup founded yesterday or a business that has been around for 140 years, the cloud is providing all of us with unbelievable opportunities to reinvent our businesses, add new customer experiences, redeploy capital to fuel growth, increase security, and do all of this so much faster than before. MLB Advanced Media is an example of an AWS customer that is constantly reinventing the customer experience. MLB’s Statcast tracking technology is a new feature for baseball fans that measures the position of each player, the baserunners, and the ball as they move during every play on the field, giving viewers on any screen access to empirical data that answers age-old questions like “what could have happened if…” while also bringing new questions to life. Turning baseball into rocket science, Statcast uses a missile radar system to measure every pitched ball’s movements more than 2,000 times per second, streams and collects data in real-time through Amazon Kinesis (our service for processing real-time streaming data), stores the data on Amazon S3, and then performs analytics in Amazon EC2. The suite of services will generate nearly 7 TB of raw statistical data per game and up to 17 PB per season, shedding quantitative light on age-old, but never verified, baseball pearls of wisdom like “never slide into first.”
About seven years ago, Netflix announced that they were going to move all their applications to the cloud. Netflix chose AWS because it provided them with the greatest scale and the broadest set of services and features. Netflix recently completed their cloud migration, and stories like theirs are becoming increasingly common as companies like Infor, Intuit, and Time Inc., have made plans to move all of their applications to AWS.
AWS is already good enough today to attract more than 1 million customers, and the service is only going to get better from here. As the team continues their rapid pace of innovation, we’ll offer more and more capabilities to let builders build unfettered, it will get easier and easier to collect, store and analyze data, we’ll continue to add more geographic locations, and we’ll continue to see growth in mobile and “connected” device applications.
Over time, it’s likely that most companies will choose not to run their own data centers, opting for the cloud instead.
Amazon’s shareholders are beginning to create a legacy all by itself. Here is a link to the entire letter — 2015 Shareholder Letter