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The egalitarianism of the cloud

Zafar Anjum | Jan. 8, 2013
CIOs in Asia must be better prepared to compete globally and cloud computing is here to help them in this battle, says Werner Vogels, the CTO of AWS, in this exclusive interview.

W Vogels

Werner Vogels, the chief technology officer of Amazon.com and Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Werner Vogels, the chief technology officer of Amazon.com and Amazon Web Services (AWS), is arguably one of the most dynamic CTOs of our time. An academic by training, Vogels joined Amazon.com in 2004 and ever since he has been one of the top brains behind the surging growth of Amazon.com as an e-commerce platform and AWS as a cloud services provider.

I met Vogels during the AWS: invent conference in Las Vegas in November last year. This was AWS's first ever user and developer conference and about 6,000 developers had turned up at the event. Vogels seemed elated with the huge success of the conference.

On the day we met, AWS had launched Amazon Redshift, a fast and powerful petabyte-scale data warehouse service in the cloud. I asked Vogels how this new service (AWS Redshift) was going to revolutionise the business.

"It is fully manageable and infinity scalable," Vogels said, sounding more like a professor than a CTO. "You can go from a 2 terabyte data warehouse to multi petabyte data warehouse." Then he goes a little back into the background of data warehousing technology. "A data warehouse is both capital and resource intensive," he said. "It is expensive hardware, it is expensive software. You need expensive experts to keep it running."

During their research, Vogels and his team found that while data warehouse is an absolute business critical part of any business, it means massive investments and speed was an issue. "Are we able to really speed up?" he said. "The answer is you need to make significant investments, millions and millions of dollars. We thought that if we are going to be a data warehousing solution for our customers, we needed to focus on low cost, and it needed to be absolutely fast. I think the selection of the name, the Redshift-the trail behind a very fast moving object-already signifies that we actually like to believe that we have been able to achieve that. If you see the dollar per query per second for Amazom.com after moving to Redshift, we saw a significant speed up."

What kind of impact will this service have on the industry? "I believe that there would be businesses that were not able to afford for themselves data warehouse are now able to use data warehouse," he said. "I like to believe that larger enterprises that know exactly how much they are spending on data warehouse will start considering Redshift because they will be able to speed up their data warehouse significantly while totally reducing the cost across the board, and not just from a point of view of hardware but the fact that they actually no longer need a highly specialised army to keep it up and running because Amazon will take care of that for you."

 

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