's Future Isn't in Books or E-Commerce

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-10-23 Print this article Print

Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) online storage and the EC2 online platform for software developers are a far cry from Amazon's origins as an online bookstore and eventually the king of e-commerce. Both have been wildly successful, and, as a result, the company now believes Web services is its future. And there's more to come.

EAST PALO ALTO,, one of the universally acknowledged Web 2.0 world leaders that has made its fortune by selling books, CDs and DVDs through its online stores, now sees its long-term future in the Web services subscription and storage business-otherwise known as cloud computing.

During the last three years, Amazon has come out with its S3 (Simple Storage Service) online storage and the EC2 online platform for software developers. Both have been wildly successful.

With S3, individual users or companies can "lease" as much storage as they desire to use for saving business documents, photos, video or any other kind of digital data.

With EC2, developers can save enormous amounts of money using a standard infrastructure and plenty of computing power to build software applications that work in Web environments. It is ideal for startups. 

The empirical evidence that Amazon is going whole hog into the cloud business? It is now using nearly two-thirds of its available bandwidth for that rapidly growing part of the business-even though its stores continue to process thousands of transactions a minute and remain very successful in their own right.

In other words, is doing quite well, thank you, even through this volatile U.S. macroeconomy.

"We just passed the 29 billion object mark in our S3 storage," Adam Selipsky, vice president of product management and developer relations at Amazon, told me at the 2008 Global Technology Leaders Summit here at the Four Seasons. "That's, um, a lot of things stored."

No kidding. Amazon doesn't do a lot of advertising, either, so the main channel of growth here has been good, old-fashioned word of mouth.

"We have this chart back at the office [in Seattle], which shows the amount of overall bandwidth we use on a daily basis for all our businesses," Selipsky told me during a break at the summit. "The online services business bandwidth line crossed over the stores' line a few months ago, so yes, we're right on track, as we see it."

Selipsky should know what he's talking about. He is in charge of all of Amazon's storage and development online services.

CEO and founder Jeff Bezos also told a group of analysts recently that he sees the future in terms of Web services provisioning. So it's plain to see where the company is headed.

"We're working on developing a lot more online services, also," Selipsky said. "Can't really talk about them here, but we'll keep you in the loop."

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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