So it was a little bit of a windy path as I was researching this pillar. As I looked around life, the thing I’m most excited about is stuff like Amazon with their new(ish) Amazon NOW service that gets me stuff delivered to my door same day. So as I started looking into that, it became clear that Amazon is taking over the world. There is SO much going on with Amazon that this might even be a series of pillars for me, but I thought it might be most interesting for listeners if I dove into one part of their business that might not be at the top of everyone’s mind. We all know about Amazon Prime, and their foray into streaming content, and their cool drone stuff, and Alexa, etc. But have you guys heard of AWS?
Stands for Amazon Web Services, and if we really simplify it, it’s “The Cloud.” that you may have heard of. So I still know embarrassingly little about what ‘the cloud’ actually is, especially because I’m in IT for a living, but with just the little research I’ve done, I think it is an important and cool phenomenon that’s happening, with Amazon leading the way. So I’m going to do the best I can at explaining what Cloud computing is, what the three flavors of it are, and then end with how Amazon is kicking ass in this space.
At its highest level, it just means “internet-based computing.” Whenever you hear “the cloud” it’s pretty much half the battle to just replace “the cloud” with “the internet.” We get what the internet is, that’s easy to understand, but what does ‘computing’ mean in this definition? Let’s try and replace the word “computing” with something we understand.
We’ll start with an easy example of how I’m computing right now as an individual consumer user. I’m currently typing this pillar in Microsoft Word. This is called an “Application.” There’s a bunch of stuff that the application allows me to do – when I hit the letters on the keyboard, those same letters appear on my screen, I can highlight them and make them bold, change the font, send the page to a printer etc. That’s all “Code” that someone had to write to tell the application what to do when the user does certain things. (C++). I’m using this application that Microsoft created, to generate a bunch of data. All applications have data associated with them. At some point, I’m going to want to save this data, so I go File>>Save – choose a location, and when I want to look at this tomorrow while we’re recording, I go back to that location and retrieve my data.
So that’s a long example of a bunch of aspects of “Computing,” but the way I traditionally use Microsoft Word, isn’t very cloud based. I installed Microsoft word on the hard drive of the computer that I’m also typing on right now, so it’s taking up space on my computer. When I save my data, a little icon appears on my desktop and it’s also saved on my computer. If I want to work on this on another device, (without the internet) I’m going to physically copy it onto something else like a thumb drive and bring it to another computer.
So what would this look like in “the cloud?” Well instead of installing Microsoft word on my computer, I’d just go to something like ‘microsoftword.com’ in my internet browser. I would probably login with a username and password and the entire ‘application’ would be right there in the browser, I could make stuff bold, type letters, etc, but would be doing it all over the internet. That “Code” is still somewhere – maybe at some big Microsoft server, or maybe somewhere else (hopefully we’ll get to that later), but it doesn’t have to be on my computer anymore. Similarly, when I’m done for the day and want to save my work, in true cloud fashion, I wouldn’t save this document to my computer, I’d save it to my online storage locker. So there are a couple layers there that are in the cloud. The application itself is in the cloud, and my data is also saved and stored in the cloud.
So what I’ve just described there is very end-user and consumer centric,