Necessity is the Mother of the Invention of Amazon’s EC2

Since the early days of the computer era there has been a desire to create a ubiquitous computer utility which can be accessed by anyone from anywhere.  With the advent of Amazon’s EC2 in 2006 the dream of a computer utility is fast becoming a reality.

How and why did Amazon, an on-line retailer, “invent” Cloud Computing? 

Urban legend has it that Amazon invented Cloud Computing as a means of selling the excess capacity of its production serves.  As the legend goes, Amazon had to have enough spare server capacity to handle its peak order period from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but these servers were idle most of the rest of the year.  So, why not sell that excess capacity.

The real story is much different.  As you will see in the following link, Jesse Robbins, Amazon’s IT Operations Manager at that time, states that like any good IT manager, he would never let non-production applications on his infrastructure:  “NOBODY gets any of it if you can humanly prevent it. It’s ‘mine, mine, mine’ as the duck said.

http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/cloud-computing/tag/origin-story/

From its initial founding, Amazon’s online business grew rapidly.  By 2003, Amazon was having difficulty maintaining its large number of servers and vast network and it was still adding servers and network capacity at a frantic pace.  As the number of servers and network grew more complex, they became more difficult to manually manage and a more automated mechanism was needed. 

In 2003 / 2004, Amazon’s Chris Pinkham, VP of Global IT Systems and Benjamin Black, a Network Operations Manager wrote up a paper describing how to go about automating the provisioning and management of Amazon’s servers and network.  This paper became the foundation for Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud.  Shortly thereafter, Jeff Bezo gave Chris Pinkham, along with Chris Brown and Willem Van Biljon the go ahead to develop an automated provisioning and management system working out Amazon’s Cape Town Development Centre. 

In one meeting with Bezo, the idea was discussed that if Amazon itself wanted automation management capabilities other computer users might want similar capabilities and the idea of selling these services was born.  So was the dream of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).  See Benjamin Black Blog and a video interview with Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezo talking about creating Amazon EC2:

http://blog.layer8.net/ec2_origins.html

So now you know that “Necessity” not excess capacity was the mother of the invention of Cloud Computing at Amazon!

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