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Amazon Web Services (AWS) describes both a technology and a company. The company AWS is a subsidiary of Amazon.com and provides on-demand cloud computing platforms to individuals, companies and governments, on a paid subscription basis with a free-tier option available for 12 months. The technology allows subscribers to have at their disposal a full-fledged virtual cluster of computers, available all the time, through the internet. AWS' version of virtual computers have most of the attributes of a real computer including hardware (CPU(s) & GPU(s) for processing, local/RAM memory, hard-disk/SSD storage); a choice of operating systems; networking; and pre-loaded application software such as web servers, databases, CRM, etc. Each AWS system also virtualizes its console I/O (keyboard, display, and mouse), allowing AWS subscribers to connect to their AWS system using a modern browser. The browser acts as a window into the virtual computer, letting subscribers log-in, configure and use their virtual systems just as they would a real physical computer. They can choose to deploy their AWS systems to provide internet-based services for their own and their customers' benefit.
The AWS technology is implemented at server farms throughout the world, and maintained by the Amazon subsidiary. Fees are based on a combination of usage, the hardware/OS/software/networking features chosen by the subscriber, required availability, redundancy, security, and service options. Based on what the subscriber needs and pays for, they can reserve a single virtual AWS computer, a cluster of virtual computers, a physical (real) computer dedicated for their exclusive use, or even a cluster of dedicated physical computers. As part of the subscription agreement, Amazon manages, upgrades, and provides industry-standard security to each subscriber's system. AWS operates from many global geographical regions including 6 in North America.
In 2016, AWS comprised more than 70 services spanning a wide range including computing, storage, networking, database, analytics, application services, deployment, management, mobile, developer tools, and tools for the Internet of Things. The most popular include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). Most services are not exposed directly to end users, but instead offer functionality through APIs for developers to use in their applications. Amazon Web Services' offerings are accessed over HTTP, using the REST architectural style and SOAP protocol.
Amazon markets AWS to subscribers as a way of obtaining large scale computing capacity more quickly and cheaply than building an actual physical server farm. All services are billed based on usage, but each service measures usage in varying ways.
Availability and Topology
Map showing Amazon Web Services' availability zones within geographic regions around the world.
As of 2017, AWS has distinct operations in the following 16 geographical "regions":
AWS has announced that 3 new regions (having 7 Availability Zones) will come online throughout 2017 in China, India, and the United Kingdom.
Each region is wholly contained within a single country and all of its data and services stay within the designated region. Each region has multiple "Availability Zones", which consist of one or more discrete data centers, each with redundant power, networking and connectivity, housed in separate facilities. Availability Zones do not automatically provide additional scalability or redundancy within a region, since they are intentionally isolated from each other to prevent outages from spreading between Zones. Several services can operate across Availability Zones (e.g., S3, DynamoDB) while others can be configured to replicate across Zones to spread demand and avoid downtime from failures.
As of December 2014, Amazon Web Services operated an estimated 1.4 Million servers across 28 availability zones. The global network of AWS Edge locations consists of 54 points of presence worldwide, including locations in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.
In 2014, AWS committed to achieving 100% renewable energy usage. In the United States, AWS' partnerships with renewable energy providers include:
Region and region names table 
|US East (N. Virginia)
|US East (Ohio)
|US West (N. California)
|US West (Oregon)
|Asia Pacific (Mumbai)
|Asia Pacific (Seoul)
|Asia Pacific (Singapore)
|Asia Pacific (Sydney)
|Asia Pacific (Tokyo)
|South America (São Paulo)
|AWS GovCloud (US)
AWS Summit 2013 event in NYC.
The AWS platform was launched in July 2002 to "expose technology and product data from Amazon and its affiliates, enabling developers to build innovative and entrepreneurial applications on their own." In the beginning, the platform consisted of only a few disparate tools and services. Then in late 2003, the AWS concept was publicly reformulated when Chris Pinkham and Benjamin Black presented a paper describing a vision for Amazon's retail computing infrastructure that was completely standardized, completely automated, and would rely extensively on web services for services such as storage and would draw on internal work already underway. Near the end of their paper, they mentioned the possibility of selling access to virtual servers as a service, proposing the company could generate revenue from the new infrastructure investment. In November 2004, the first AWS service launched for public usage: Simple Queue Service (SQS). Thereafter Pinkham and lead developer Christoper Brown developed the Amazon EC2 service, with a team in Cape Town, South Africa.
Amazon Web Services was officially re-launched on March 14, 2006, combining the three initial service offerings of Amazon S3 cloud storage, SQS, and EC2. The AWS platform finally provided an integrated suite of core online services, as Chris Pinkham and Benjamin Black had proposed back in 2003, as a service offered to other developers, web sites, client-side applications, and companies. Andy Jassy, AWS founder and vice president in 2006, said at the time that Amazon S3 (one of the first and most scalable elements of AWS) "helps free developers from worrying about where they are going to store data, whether it will be safe and secure, if it will be available when they need it, the costs associated with server maintenance, or whether they have enough storage available. Amazon S3 enables developers to focus on innovating with data, rather than figuring out how to store it." His quote marks a milestone in the Internet's history, when massive managed resources became available to developers worldwide, allowing them to offer new scalable web-enabled technologies. In 2016 Jassy was promoted to CEO of the division. Reflecting the success of AWS, his annual compensation in 2017 hit nearly $36 million.
To support industry-wide training and skills standardization, AWS began offering a certification program for computer engineers, on April 30, 2013, to highlight expertise in cloud computing.
James Hamilton, an AWS engineer, wrote a retrospective article in 2016 to highlight the ten-year history of the online service from 2006 to 2016. As an early fan and outspoken proponent of the technology, he had joined the AWS engineering team in 2008.
Growth and Profitability
In November 2010, it was reported that all of Amazon.com's retail sites had been completely moved under the AWS umbrella. Prior to 2012, AWS was considered a part of Amazon.com and so its revenue was not delineated in Amazon financial statements. In that year industry watchers for the first time estimated AWS revenue to be over $1.5 billion.
In April 2015, Amazon.com reported AWS was profitable, with sales of $1.57 billion in the first quarter of the year and $265 million of operating income. Founder Jeff Bezos described it as a fast-growing $5 billion business; analysts described it as "surprisingly more profitable than forecast". In October 2015, Amazon.com said in its Q3 earnings report that AWS's operating income was $521 million, with operating margins at 25 percent. AWS's 2015 Q3 revenue was $2.1 billion, a 78% increase from 2014's Q3 revenue of $1.17 billion. 2015 Q4 revenue for the AWS segment increased 69.5% y/y to $2.4 billion with 28.5% operating margin, giving AWS a $9.6 billion run rate. In 2015, Gartner estimated that AWS customers are deploying 10x more infrastructure on AWS than the combined adoption of the next 14 providers.
In 2016 Q1, revenue was $2.57 billion with net income of $604 million, a 64% increase over 2015 Q1 that resulted in AWS being more profitable than Amazon's North American retail business for the first time. In the first quarter of 2016, Amazon experienced a 42% rise in stock value as a result of increased earnings, of which AWS contributed 56% to corporate profits.
With a 50% increase in revenues the past few years, AWS is predicted to have $13 billion in revenue in 2017.
- AWS adoption has increased since launch in 2002.
- On March 14, 2006, Amazon said in a press release: "More than 150,000 developers have signed up to use Amazon Web Services since its inception."
- In June 2007, Amazon claimed that more than 180,000 developers had signed up to use Amazon Web Services.
- In November 2012, AWS hosted its first customer event in Las Vegas.
- In October 2013, it was revealed that AWS was awarded a $600M contract with the CIA.
- During August 2014, AWS received Department of Defense-Wide provisional authorization for all U.S. Regions.
- During the 2015 re:Invent keynote, AWS disclosed that they have more than a million active customers every month in 190 countries, including nearly 2,000 government agencies, 5,000 education institutions and more than 17,500 nonprofits.
- On April 5 2017, AWS and DXC Technology (formed from a merger of CSC and HPE) announced an expanded alliance to increase access of AWS features for enterprise clients in existing data centers.
Notable customers include NASA, the Obama presidential campaign of 2012,Kempinski Hotels, and Netflix.
Significant service outages
- On April 20, 2011, AWS suffered a major outage. Parts of the Elastic Block Store (EBS) service became "stuck" and could not fulfill read/write requests. It took at least two days for service to be fully restored.
- On June 29, 2012, several websites that rely on Amazon Web Services were taken offline due to a severe storm in Northern Virginia, where AWS' largest data center cluster is located.
- On October 22, 2012, a major outage occurred, affecting many sites such as Reddit, Foursquare, Pinterest, and others. The cause was a memory leak bug in an operational data collection agent.
- On December 24, 2012, AWS suffered another outage causing websites such as Netflix to be unavailable for customers in the Northeastern United States. AWS cited their Elastic Load Balancing (ELB) service as the cause.
- On February 28, 2017, AWS experienced a massive outage of S3 services in its Northern Virginia data center. A majority of websites which relied on AWS S3 either hung or stalled, and Amazon reported within five hours that AWS was fully online again. No data has been reported to have been lost due to the outage. The outage was caused by a human error made while debugging, that resulted in removing more server capacity than intended, which caused a domino effect of outages.
List of products
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Storage and content delivery
- Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) provides scalable object storage accessible from a Web Service interface. Applicable use cases include backup/archiving, file (including media) storage and hosting, static website hosting, application data hosting, and more.
- Amazon Glacier provides long-term storage options (compared to S3). High redundancy and availability, but low-frequent access times. Intended for archiving data.
- AWS Storage Gateway, an iSCSI block storage virtual appliance with cloud-based backup.
- Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) provides persistent block-level storage volumes for EC2.
- AWS Import/Export, accelerates moving large amounts of data into and out of AWS using portable storage devices for transport.
- Amazon Elastic File System (EFS) a file storage service for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances.
- Amazon DynamoDB provides a scalable, low-latency NoSQL online Database Service backed by SSDs.
- Amazon ElastiCache provides in-memory caching for web applications. This is Amazon's implementation of Memcached and Redis.
- Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) provides scalable database servers with MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, and PostgreSQL support.
- Amazon Redshift provides petabyte-scale data warehousing with column-based storage and multi-node compute.
- Amazon SimpleDB allows developers to run queries on structured data. It operates in concert with EC2 and S3.
- AWS Data Pipeline provides reliable service for data transfer between different AWS compute and storage services (e.g., Amazon S3, Amazon RDS, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon EMR). In other words, this service is simply a data-driven workload management system, which provides a management API for managing and monitoring of data-driven workloads in cloud applications.
- Amazon Aurora provides a MySQL-compatible relational database engine that has been created specifically for the AWS infrastructure that claims faster speeds and lower costs that are realized in larger databases.
- Amazon Identity and Access Management (IAM) is an implicit service, providing the authentication infrastructure used to authenticate access to the various services.
- AWS Directory Service a managed service that allows connection to AWS resources with an existing on-premises Microsoft Active Directory or to set up a new, stand-alone directory in the AWS Cloud.
- Amazon CloudWatch, provides monitoring for AWS cloud resources and applications, starting with EC2.
- AWS Management Console (AWS Console), A web-based point and click interface to manage and monitor the Amazon infrastructure suite including (but not limited to) EC2, EBS, S3, SQS, Amazon Elastic MapReduce, and Amazon CloudFront. A mobile application for Android which has support for some of the management features from the console.
- Amazon CloudHSM - The AWS CloudHSM service helps to meet corporate, contractual and regulatory compliance requirements for data security by using dedicated Hardware Security Module (HSM) appliances within the AWS cloud.
- AWS Key Management Service (KMS) a managed service to create and control encryption keys.
- Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS) a highly scalable and fast container management service using Docker containers.
- Amazon API Gateway is a service for publishing, maintaining and securing web service APIs.
- Amazon CloudSearch provides basic full-text search and indexing of textual content.
- Amazon DevPay, currently in limited beta version, is a billing and account management system for applications that developers have built atop Amazon Web Services.
- Amazon Elastic Transcoder (ETS) provides video transcoding of S3 hosted videos, marketed primarily as a way to convert source files into mobile-ready versions.
- Amazon Simple Email Service (SES) provides bulk and transactional email sending.
- Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS) provides a hosted message queue for web applications.
- Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS) provides a hosted multi-protocol "push" messaging for applications.
- Amazon Simple Workflow (SWF) is a workflow service for building scalable, resilient applications.
- Amazon Cognito is a user identity and data synchronization service that securely manages and synchronizes app data for users across their mobile devices.
- Amazon AppStream 2.0 is a low-latency service that streams and resources intensive applications and games from the cloud using NICE DVC technology.
- Amazon Athena is an ETL-like service launched in November 2016. It allows server-less querying of S3 content using standard SQL.
- Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR) Provides a PaaS service delivering Hadoop for running MapReduce queries framework running on the web-scale infrastructure of EC2 and Amazon S3.
- Amazon Machine Learning a service that assists developers of all skill levels to use machine learning technology.
- Amazon Kinesis is a cloud-based service for real-time data processing over large, distributed data streams. It streams data in real time with the ability to process thousands of data streams on a per-second basis. The service, designed for real-time apps, allows developers to pull any amount of data, from any number of sources, scaling up or down as needed. It has some similarities in functionality to Apache Kafka.
- Amazon Elasticsearch Service provides fully managed Elasticsearch and Kibana services.
- Amazon QuickSight is a business intelligence, analytics, and visualization tool launched in November 2016. It provides ad-hoc services by connecting to AWS or non-AWS data sources.
- Amazon Marketplace Web Service (MWS) allows users to manage complete shipment process from creating listing to downloading shipment label using API.
- Amazon Fulfillment Web Service provides a programmatic web service for sellers to ship items to and from Amazon using Fulfillment by Amazon. This service will no longer be supported by Amazon. All of the functionality of this service is now transferred to Amazon marketplace Web service.
- Amazon Historical Pricing provides access to Amazon's historical sales data from its affiliates. (It appears that this service has been discontinued.)
- Amazon Mechanical Turk (Mturk) manages small units of work distributed among many persons.
- Amazon Product Advertising API formerly known as Amazon Associates Web Service (A2S) and Amazon E-Commerce Service (ECS), provides access to Amazon's product data and electronic commerce functionality.
- Amazon Gift Code On Demand (AGCOD) for Corporate Customers enables companies to distribute Amazon gift cards (gift codes) instantly in any denomination, integrating Amazon's gift-card technology into customer loyalty, employee incentive and payment disbursement platforms.
- AWS Partner Network (APN) provides technology partners and consulting partners with the technical information and sales and marketing support to increase business opportunities through AWS and with businesses using AWS. Launched in April 2012, the APN is made up of Technology Partners including Independent Software Vendors (ISVs), tool providers, platform providers, and others. Consulting Partners include System Integrators (SIs), agencies, consultancies, Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and others. Potential Technology and Consulting Partners must meet technical and non-technical training requirements set by AWS.
- Amazon Lumberyard is a freeware triple-A game engine that is integrated with AWS.
- Amazon Chime an enterprise collaboration service organizations can use for voice, video conference, and instant messaging.
In June 2014 AWS opened their first temporary Pop-up Loft, in San Francisco, to help businesses discover their services. In May 2015 they expanded to New York City, and in September 2015 expanded to Berlin. AWS opened their fourth location, in Tel Aviv from March 1, 2016 to March 22, 2016. A Pop-up Loft was open in London from September 10 to October 29, 2015.
In 2017 AWS launched a program in the United Kingdom to help young adults and military veterans retrain in technology-related skills. In partnership with the Prince's Trust and the Ministry of Defence (MoD), AWS will help to provide re-training opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and former soldiers who have left the military. AWS is working alongside a number of partner companies including Cloudreach, Sage, EDF Energy and Tesco Bank.
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