Some of the directions Amazon has taken AWS have surprised Black. AWS is moving further and further "up the stack" to provide application services, like virtual desktops and email. Not everything he and Pinkham proposed made it into the initial version, but every change was for the better, he wrote in a blog post describing the origins of EC2.
Did Black realize the idea he and Pinkham proposed to Bezos would turn into what is has today? Far from it. "Right off the bat we just thought it would be an interesting thing to do," he says. "It took a while to get to a point of realizing that this is actually transformative. It was not obvious at the beginning."
How the Internet of Things could be the next cloud
Black has a new gig now. After stints at Microsoft, VMware, advising the company Chef and starting his own monitoring company named Boundry, cloud company Pivotal hired Black as senior director of technology. Pivotal, which is a spinout from VMware, EMC and has substantial backing from General Electric, is behind the open source platform as a service (PaaS) Cloud Foundry.
Whereas an IaaS like AWS is a massive distributed system of virtual hardware and services - like compute, storage and databases - a PaaS is an application development and hosting service.
In his new role at Pivotal Black hopes to spearhead the company's burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT) lab in Seattle, where he lives.
There's an opportunity for a company like Pivotal to create a series of application components that can be used in IoT that serve as a basis for many other IoT apps, Black says. "There are some pretty basic patterns across all of these desired apps," he says. "What we're looking do is develop the primitives that would allow anyone to get into the IoT marketplace."
When asked how the IoT market could compare to the cloud computing market that he helped usher in, Black said: "Bigger."
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