Amazon's Other Business
Amazon, the famous online bookstore, now offers a completely different set of services, ones that are geared not towards book buyers but towards Web developers. Amazon took its expertise in building large-scale reliable services for the World Wide Web and packaged it — amazingly affordably — for other people to use.
Let's say, for example, that I've developed a new online business that requires highly-accessible and reliable storage space. I can build a storage system myself, but that can be expensive and poses a huge barrier to entry. Amazon lowers that barrier — that's one of their stated design goals, to lower barriers to entry — by providing high-speed highly-reliable storage for rent. At a price of $0.10/gigabyte stored per month, and $0.20/gigabyte transferred per month, as an aspiring entrepreneur I can try something out to see if it's feasible without a huge up-front cost.
Or let's say I need a stack of 100 computers to test something, or perhaps I need this stack to run a web service. If I purchase these computers I must not only spend a few hundred dollars or more apiece, but I must also find an air-conditioned office with reliable Internet access, lots of electrical power, and a sercurity guard. Amazon will provide me with a single "virtual" computer, accessible online, for $0.10/hour. That stack of 100 computers would only cost $10/hour to run — testing a service or keeping it online becomes dirt cheap.
Amazon provides these services and more, including what they call "artificial artificial intelligence," a topic for a different day. Amazon has done an amazing job of disaggregating their business to resell some of their expertise, and even better they've done it in a way that has already jump-started dozens of new Web businesses.
Topics: · business · design · software · technology
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