Amazon currently reigns as the undisputed cloud computing champion. With Amazon Web Services (AWS), the tech giant has a large share of the cloud market, one that dwarfs their closest competitors combined. AWS has turned into a juggernaut with more than a million active customers every month. Those customers aren’t just small businesses and startups either. Major companies like Netflix, Reddit, Pinterest, and Johnson & Johnson have seen the benefits using Amazon’s cloud can bring, and the result is billions of dollars in revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for AWS. Put simply, Amazon has figured out some of the best ways to properly utilize the cloud. That means there are plenty of lessons other companies and individuals can learn from AWS when it comes to using cloud computing effectively.
Amazon is on top of the cloud competition for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the company had a head start of several years before the likes of Google and Microsoft got serious about cloud computing. Despite this advantage, Amazon is always on the lookout for new ways to grow and expand. In fact, much of Amazon’s investment is devoted to scaling their operations up. This is only made possible by creating accurate forecasts of demand well in advance. In other words, Amazon is able to anticipate their needs and respond in time for customers to be satisfied. This is an example other companies can learn from regarding how best to use the cloud. If companies wait until demand overwhelms current capabilities, their progress and growth will be stifled, and it will take weeks or even months to get everything up to speed once more. Companies need to avoid those delays and plan for future demands ahead of time.
Another key focus of Amazon’s cloud strategy is customization. When AWS first started up back in 2006, Amazon would buy servers from some of the leading vendors in the tech community. As Amazon Web Services grew, that strategy changed to customization. Amazon would instead build its own hardware and equipment for the data centers that would be the heart of their cloud operations. Servers, storage devices, and networking equipment all got the same customization treatment. This change in strategy meant Amazon could then fine-tune their equipment to specifically meet their demands and needs. It also gave the company far more control over what kind of performance standards their data centers could meet and the cost of the equipment. Other businesses should note these benefits. Success in the cloud is largely determined by getting a high rate of performance at a lower cost. Customization can make this happen.
One lesson all businesses should learn from Amazon’s cloud operations is the company’s clear goal to listen to customers and improve their features based on feedback. An initiative launched by AWS in early 2015 was expressly intended to answer some of the suggestions voiced by customers. Some of those suggestions centered around providing better customer support; however, much of the focus was placed on improving security. Data security remains a top concern for many businesses when migrating their files to the cloud, so AWS introduced improved encryption and other security features to highlight a renewed emphasis in protecting customer data. That dedication to better security has even extended to Amazon’s physical facilities, where multiple levels of security guard the servers and other equipment so vital to making the cloud operate smoothly. Again, this is a blueprint for cloud success other companies can follow. Emphasizing security will help keep a business’s data and reputation intact, while listening to customer suggestions can help companies respond with more favorable features that consumers actually want.
As businesses continue to figure out how best to use the cloud effectively, the prime example is still the company at the top of the food chain. Amazon may be number one at the moment, but with an aggressive strategy and detailed goals, they don’t necessarily act like it all the time. While many companies may still be debating over what is cloud computing and if it’s the right fit for their organizations, Amazon has forged ahead and shown what makes for a successful use of the cloud. Many businesses would be wise to follow their lead and implement some of the same ideas.
By Rick Delgado