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Communications of the ACM


A Second Conversation with Werner Vogels

Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels

Credit: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images for Hubert Burda Media

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When I joined Amazon in 1998, the company had a single U.S.-based website selling only books and running a monolithic C application on five servers, a handful of Berkeley DBs for key/value data, and a relational database. That database was called "ACB" which stood for "Amazon.Com Books," a name that failed to reflect the range of our ambition. In 2006, acmqueue published a conversation between Jim Gray and Werner Vogels, Amazon's CTO, in which Vogel explained that Amazon should be viewed not just as an online bookstore but as a technology company. In the intervening 14 years, Amazon's distributed systems, and the patterns used to build and operate them, have grown in influence. In this follow-up conversation, Vogel and I pay particular attention to the lessons to be learned from the evolution of a single distributed system—Simple Storage Service (S3)—that was publicly launched close to the time of that 2006 conversation.
    —Tom Killalea


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