One of my favorite stories over the weekend was this GeekWire writeup
of a recent interview with Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy at the University of Washington. He offered some relatively rare insights in how AWS views the cloud computing market, and even addressed the issue of cloud lock-in. Even accounting for vendor spin, he also left quite a bit to unpack.
This quote from Jassy is a good example: “I don’t think in our wildest dreams we ever thought we’d have a six- to seven-year head start, especially because we’re across the lake from another big technology company in that space, and we all know so many people at each other’s companies.”
In the first half, he pointed out what is probably the biggest case of collective blindness in the IT industry ever—at least in terms of how much money it cost software vendors. It took a long time for legacy software and hardware vendors to offer any credible cloud platform, and many of them still aren’t there. They dismissed AWS, skirted around the edges of what it was doing without ever really competing directly, and now it’s eating their lunches.
The second half of that quote, however, is a bit of revisionist history. Microsoft actually launched Azure in 2008, around two years after Amazon launched AWS. Google announced its App Engine platform-as-a-service offering in 2008, as well.
Jassy does speak in the interview about the higher-level abstractions some competitors were trying, and perhaps that accounts for some the six -to-seven-year head start he claims. It took Microsoft a while (until 2010) to shed the more PaaS-y nature of Azure and start offering virtual machines. Google didn’t announce anything resembling infrastructure as a service until Compute Engine in 2012. It’s now 2017 and both are still playing a serious game of catch-up.
But then again, at least in the part of the interview that GeekWire highlights, Jassy never mentioned Google as a competitor at all.