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How Does Amazon ReInvent Its Cloud Services?

Amazon CTO explains that all of the cloud computing giant's new features benefit from a four-step process.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) have long defined the cloud industry, and with a new set of services announced today the definition is expanding.

At Amazon's re:invent conference in Las Vegas today, CTO Werner Vogels detailed a number of new cloud services that his company is now officially launching. Those services include the new Kinesis real-time event streaming service, new virtual server instances for high-performance computing and support for the open source PostgreSQL database in Amazon's Relational Database Service (RDS).

During his keynote address, Vogels said that Amazon makes a lot of announcements in any given year as it continuously aims to add new features and functionality to the cloud. To the outsider it might seem like there is no method to Amazon's feature adding efforts, but Vogels does have a plan.

Vogels explained that he has a very straightforward process to figuring out what new service will be added to AWS next. It all begins with a press release.

"In a press release you often say in very simple and clear terms, exactly that which you're going to deliver," Vogels said.

The next step in the AWS new feature development process is the development of a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list. That's basically a list of 10 or 15 questions that any customer is likely to ask about the product.

The third step is to define the user interaction with the product or service that is going to be built. The fourth step in Werner's process is to actually start building the user documentation.

"All of these things are what our teams do before writing a single line of code," Vogels said.

Two Boxes of Pizza

From a development perspective, Vogels said that having small development teams is also key. From the earliest days of Amazon, he said that a key theme is to have development teams that could be fed with only two boxes of pizza.

"The goal is to have teams that are small enough so that you don't have to hold meetings to understand what everybody else on the team is doing," Vogels said.

Vogels stressed that he wants Amazon's development teams to get functionality into user's hand as quickly as possible. The legacy model of service development was the deployment of new services in a 'big bang' approach where everything is released after long development cycle in a large release. At Amazon, Vogels said the approach is different, favoring lean, agile iterative development.

What does truly matter to Vogels are four key drivers of innovation: performance, security, reliability and cost.

"Lean means you have to remove waste," Vogels said. "Waste is anything that doesn't truly matter."

AWS Werner Vogels, cloud CTO

Werner Vogels at Amazon's re:invent conference

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist




Tags: cloud computing, AWS, Amazon Web Services


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