DEV Community

Cover image for AWS in 2 Minutes: A Summary, A History, A Flagship Product, and A Case Example
Billy Witherspoon
Billy Witherspoon

Posted on

AWS in 2 Minutes: A Summary, A History, A Flagship Product, and A Case Example

A Summary

AWS (Amazon Web Services) is a subsidiary of Amazon that provides on demand cloud based platforms that allows businesses of all sizes to scale and grow through compute power, database storage, content delivery and other functionality.

A History

Cape Town, South Africa. The birthplace of AWS.


AWS all began with Benjamin Black and Chris Pinkham. These two Amazon employees wrote a vision paper for a service that:

"completely standardized, completely automated, and relied extensively on web services for things like storage."


Jeff B gives the project a green light. Pinkham, having grown up in South Africa, sets up a satellite office in Cape Town. He works with a team to develop a flagship product called the Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2).


AWS officially launches their first three products:

  • EC2 (Elastic Computer Cloud)
  • S3 (Simple Storage Service)
  • SQS (Simple Queue Service)

All three of these remain top 10 AWS services (out of approximately 100).

A Flagship Product

What is it?

EC2 is a service that allows clients to rent amazon resources on demand to create virtual machines (named 'instances' by AWS).

Essentially, AWS maintains their servers. Clients can 'rent' computing power from these servers. Clients create 'instances' that have varying attributes such as CPU, RAM, or OS. Options range from on-demand instances to reserved dedicated hosts paid by the hour.

What are the Benefits?


Have a change in computing demand overnight, over months...or a full year? Clients can configure new instances in less than 10 minutes. It is marketed as infinitely scalable for any size solution.

No Maintenance and Upgrading

Clients have no need to maintain, repair, monitor, and upgrade equipment.


Like many major cloud services, reliability is extremely high. A quick look at an older 2015 comparison shows a reliability rating over 99.99%.

A Case Example (Expedia ESS)

A great example of a major company turning to EC2 was Expedia in 2010. They were launching a typeahead suggestion service called ESS (Expedia Suggest Service) in Asia and Europe that helped customers enter travel, search, and location information correctly.

Internal studies found that an error page was a main reason for site abandonment.

Existing Expedia data centers were all located in Chandler, AZ. Technology Director, Murari Gopalan was quoted saying:

“There was no way for us to solve the problem without AWS.”

After their migration and implementation, latency was reduced from 700ms to 50ms.


Amazon Web Services EC2

Timeline of AWS

How Amazon exposed its guts: The History of AWS's EC2
Jack Clark, ZDNEt

Top 30 AWS cloud services
Brandon Butler, Senior Editor, Network World

AWS Rates Highest on Cloud Reliability
George Leopold, EnterpriseAI

What is AWS
edureka!, YouTube

Top comments (0)