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August 17, 2004

Amazon Move FAQ #3: Why Amazon?

I wasnít really looking for a change of employers. The contact with Amazon grew out of some discussions on scalability and service construction our team had with them. I think many of us know Amazon is not really just this bookshop on the Internet, but because at the same time we are frequent customers of Amazon, we have some mental block looking at Amazon as the extreme high-tech company. There are many technology areas were Amazon is really pushing the envelope like no other company is; the lack of commercial software that can addresses their needs makes them into one of the big innovators in the industry. The more I learned about their technology and organization the more impressed I became with the people and the corporate culture.

At a number of occasions I was surprised how much of my views were represented in experiences of the architects and developers at Amazon. They had arrived at many of the same conclusions about building distributed systems as that I had, but in their case of course based on hard-core data.

Many companies are involved in innovation, giants such as Microsoft and IBM, middleware players such as Iona and BEA, and for example the many new service and pubsub oriented starters. But all of these target their technologies at customers that operate in essence at a scale and complexity that is orders of magnitude less than Amazonís operations. This makes working on Amazonís technology a very different experience than at other innovators.

When Amazon did approach me about a possible position in the company, I was already less skeptical than I normally am about a move to industry. When it became clear it was a new position that would have an advanced systems research and architecture focus, and would include driving the collaboration with academia, I became seriously interested. It took a few months to iron everything out, but a few weeks ago I finally put my signature other the contract.

Maybe at first sight it appears that I will be involved with the same things I was doing in academia; working on the research and design of advanced distributed systems technologies combined with brokering better academic & industrial collaborations. But I am sure it is going to be very, very different.

Posted by Werner Vogels at August 17, 2004 03:11 PM