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AWS: 10 defining moments for the cloud giant

Matthew Finnegan | April 18, 2016
Amazon Web Services turned 10 this week, ComputerworldUK looks at some of the biggest events in its history

Earlier this week, Amazon Web Services turned 10 years old.  Launched by online bookseller Amazon in 2006, it has gone on to help transform the IT industry in an era of widespread cloud computing.

This has involved taking on some of the biggest names in tech. Where the likes of Dell, HP and IBM have struggled to transition their businesses to meet demand for the public, AWS has soared out in front.

According to the latest Gartner estimates, AWS's cloud business is 10 times larger than its nearest 14 competitors combined. Not bad for a company that was once considered a 'risky bet' for the retail giant.

Despite these successes, Jeff Bezo's firm faces some significant challenges as the company moves into its second decade.

Microsoft and Google have increased their focus on public cloud in recent years, and present a significant threat to AWS as large businesses consider how to move more workloads out of the data centre.  Oracle, IBM Softlayer and other OpenStack-based vendors remain a threat too, with many predicting that cloud uptake is still really in its infancy.

Here are some of the defining moments of AWS in the past ten years.

1. Amazon Web Services launches (2002)

1. Amazon Web Services launches (2002)

It was actually back in 2002 that AWS was formally launched, as a free service that allowed companies to features on their own sites.

The early version of the business was aimed at helping developers "build applications and tools that will allow them to incorporate many of the unique features of into their websites".

2. S3 and EC2 released (2006)

2. S3 and EC2 released (2006)

It wasn't until a few years later that AWS launched with its first cloud products, enabling businesses to build their own applications using Amazon's infrastructure.

First was Simple Storage Service (S3), followed by Elastic Compute Cloud - or EC2 - its server rental and hosting service.  EC2 has been added to over the years, with various instance types offering different configurations of CPU, memory, storage and networking capacity, for example.

3. Competition heats up as Google and Microsoft launch cloud services (2008)

3. Competition heats up as Google and Microsoft launch cloud services (2008)

Two years after launching its cloud services, Google joined the market. 

While it has typically been viewed as trailing in third place among the big public cloud providers, this is beginning to change, and with the hiring of former VMware CEO, Diane Green, to lead its enterprise cloud business, Google has its eyes on gaining more traction with large businesses. 

It has also made headway in recent weeks. Both Spotify and, reportedly Apple, are moving some of their services away from AWS to the Google cloud.


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