Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services
Type of site
Web service, cloud computing
Launched 2006 (2006)[1]

Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of,[2] offers a suite of cloud-computing services that make up an on-demand computing platform. These services operate from 14 geographical regions across the world.[3] They include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, also known as "EC2", and Amazon Simple Storage Service, also known as "S3". As of 2016 AWS has more than 70 services, spanning a wide range, including compute, storage, networking, database, analytics, application services, deployment, management, mobile, developer tools and tools for the Internet of things. Amazon markets AWS as a service to provide large computing capacity quicker and cheaper than a client company building an actual physical server farm.[4]


Map showing Amazon Web Services' availability zones within geographic regions around the world.

AWS is located in 14 geographical "regions":[5]

AWS has announced another 4 Regions (and 11 Availability Zones) in Canada, China, India, and the United Kingdom coming online throughout 2017.[8] Each Region is wholly contained within a single country and all of its data and services stay within the designated Region.[9] Each Region has multiple "Availability Zones",[10] which are distinct data centers providing AWS services. Availability Zones are isolated from each other to prevent outages from spreading between Zones. Several services operate across Availability Zones (e.g., S3, DynamoDB) while others can be configured to replicate across Zones to spread demand and avoid downtime from failures. As of December 2014, Amazon Web Services operated an estimated 1.4 Million servers across 28 availability zones.[11]

The global network of AWS Edge locations consists of 54 points of presence worldwide, including locations in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.[8]

In 2014, AWS committed to achieving 100% renewable energy usage.[12] As part of this effort in the United States, AWS commissioned with Community Energy of Virginia a solar farm coming online in 2016 to support the US East region.[13] In January 2015, AWS announced it has teamed with Pattern Development to construct and operate Amazon Wind Farm Fowler Ridge. In July 2015, AWS announced that it has contracted with Iberdrola Renewables, LLC to construct and operate Amazon Wind Farm US East. In November 2015, AWS announced that it has contracted with EDP Renewables to construct and operate Amazon Wind Farm US Central.[14] AWS is also working with Tesla Motors to apply battery storage technology to address some power needs in the US West (Northern California) region.[13]


Further information: Timeline of Amazon Web Services
AWS Summit 2013 event in NYC.

Officially launched in 2006, Amazon Web Services provides online services for other web sites or client-side applications.[1] Most of these services are not exposed directly to end users, but instead offer functionality that other developers can use in their applications. Amazon Web Services’ offerings are accessed over HTTP, using the REST architectural style and SOAP protocol. All services are billed based on usage, but how usage is measured for billing varies from service to service.

In late 2003, Chris Pinkham and Benjamin Black presented a paper describing a vision for Amazon's retail computing infrastructure that was completely standardized, completely automated, and would rely extensively on web services for services such as storage, drawing on internal work already underway. Near the end they mentioned the possibility of selling virtual servers as a service, proposing the company could generate revenue from the new infrastructure investment.[15] The first AWS service launched for public usage was Simple Queue Service in November 2004.[16] Amazon EC2 was built by a team in Cape Town, South Africa, under Pinkham and lead developer Chris Brown.[17]

In June 2007, Amazon claimed that more than 180,000 developers had signed up to use Amazon Web Services.[18]

In November 2010, it was reported that all of retail web services had been moved to AWS.[19]

On April 20, 2011, some parts of Amazon Web Services suffered a major outage. A portion of volumes using the Elastic Block Store (EBS) service became "stuck" and were unable to fulfill read/write requests. It took at least two days for service to be fully restored.[20] On June 29, 2012, several websites that rely on Amazon Web Services were taken offline due to a severe storm of historic proportions in Northern Virginia, where AWS' largest datacenter cluster is located.[21]

On October 22, 2012, a major outage occurred, affecting many sites such as Reddit, Foursquare, Pinterest, and others. The cause was a latent memory leak bug in an operational data collection agent.[22] On December 24, 2012, AWS suffered another outage, causing websites such as Netflix instant video to be unavailable for customers in the Northeastern United States.[23] AWS later issued a statement[24] detailing the issues with the Elastic Load Balancing service that led up to the outage.

In November 2012, AWS hosted its first customer event in Las Vegas.[25] On April 30, 2013, AWS began offering a certification program for computer engineers with expertise in cloud computing.[26]

AWS revenue was not stated separately in the past, but in 2012 it was estimated by industry watchers at over $1.5 billion.[27]

On May 13, 2013, AWS was awarded an Agency Authority to Operate (ATO) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).[28]

In October 2013, it was revealed that AWS was awarded a $600M contract with the CIA.[29]

During August 2014, AWS received Department of Defense-Wide provisional authorization for all U.S. Regions.[30]

In April 2015, AWS was reported to be profitable, with sales of $1.57 billion in the first quarter of the year, and $265 million of operating income. Founder Jeff Bezos described it as a fast-growing $5 billion business; analysts described it as "surprisingly more profitable than forecast".[31] In October 2015, said in its Q3 earnings report that AWS's operating income was $521 million, with operating margins at 25 percent. AWS's Q3 2015 revenue was $2.1 billion, a 78% increase from Q3 2014's revenue of $1.17 billion.[32] Q4 2015 revenue for the AWS segment increased 69.5% y/y to $2.4 billion with 28.5% operating margin, making AWS a $9.6 billion run rate. In Q1 2016, revenue was $2.57 billion with net income of $604 million, a 64% increase over Q1 2015 that resulted in AWS being more profitable than Amazon's North American retail business for the first time.[33]

In 2015, Gartner estimated that AWS customers are deploying 10x more infrastructure on AWS than the combined adoption of the next 14 providers.[34] During the 2015 re:Invent keynote, AWS disclosed that they have more than a million active customers every month in 190 countries, including nearly 2,000 government agencies, 5,000 education institutions and more than 17,500 nonprofits.

AWS adoption has increased since launch in 2006. Notable customers include NASA,[35] the Obama Campaign,[36] Pinterest,[37] Kempinski Hotels,[38] Netflix,[39] Infor[40] and the CIA.[41]

AWS Engineer James Hamilton created a ten-year timeline of the online service.[42]

In 2016, AWS founder Andy Jassy was named CEO of the division.[43]

In the first quarter of 2016, Amazon experienced a 42% rise in stock value as a result of increased earnings, of which AWS contributed 56% to company's profit.[44][45]

List of products



Content delivery

Storage and content delivery




Application services



Pop-up lofts

In June 2014 AWS opened their first Pop-up Loft, in San Francisco, to help businesses discover their services.[63] In August 2015 they expanded to New York City,[64][65] and in September 2015 expanded to Berlin.[66] AWS opened their fourth location, in Tel Aviv from March 1, 2016 to March 22, 2016.[67] A Pop-up Loft will open in London, from April 18, 2016 to April 28, 2016.


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  66. "Amazon Web Services opens Pop-up Loft in Berlin". 22 September 2015.
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