Sleepless in Seattle

AWS office building
I just returned from a business trip to Seattle that included 18 meetings in 3 days. It also included me losing my car keys, having my rental car towed down a busy sidewalk, and breaking into my own hotel room - but that is a story for another post.

Among the trip highlights were several meetings at the AWS offices in downtown Seattle. Below are random notes / comments I collected while visiting AWS, all of which are for public consumption:

  • AWS Blackfoot offices distinctly swankier than their more frugal offices by the hospital.
  • Where did all the door desks go? Jeff’s basement?
  • Likelihood Amazon employee having previously worked at Microsoft inversely proportional to the length of time with the company.
  • Do only out of town AWS employees go to Starbucks? Everyone else heads to Motore Coffee on 9th, even though Peet’s is in building.
  • WAG: majority of people in AWS have been with Amazon less than a year.
  • Great comment from Jeff Barr: the San Francisco Pop-Up Loft is the “Amazon office equivalent of a spot instance.”
  • No loss in the near-maniacal focus on customer since first visit to AWS in 2011.
  • Is it possible you can hire too many people from Microsoft?
  • Note to self: Don’t rent a car from Fox Rental Car. It took outstanding customer service of AAA after losing keys (think even AAA rep was stunned with lack of service from Fox).
  • Small world: met former SVP of engineering from Boston-based ExaGrid, who now lives in Seattle and works at AWS.
  • AWS still pervasively operating with “two pizza box teams”.
  • I still believe the AWS red-headed step-child, EBS, is one of most differentiated services. Providing performant, attached, scalable and on-demand storage is an under-appreciated first tier problem.
  • For all the benefits of small and highly decentralized teams, they create new organizational challenges at scale.
  • Cost of custom CloudWatch metrics can be less than I realized (for at least one use case) due to fact it is charged hourly.
  • Use of written briefs instead of PowerPoint forces organization to think deeply.
  • Note to self: wear a hoodie and swear more. All the cool CTOs from SV do this.
  • Wednesday: lost fight with Seattle parking meter. Me: -$98; Parking meter: $98. AMEX will fix it.
  • Most AWS customers discount the value of a guaranteed reservation since success at managing explosive AWS growth has given us perception of no constraints.
  • Much greater recognition of importance of partners / ecosystem than a few years ago.
  • Thursday I was stereotype: walked downtown in the rain with Starbucks in hand.
  • IAM is cool and only getting cooler. Does any other cloud provider have the features / expressiveness of IAM?
  • Enterprise is really gaining steam.
  • Wonder what the tipping points will be to bring the 99.9% of infrastructure into the public cloud?
  • Amazon building two skyscrapers on its newly purchased multi-billion dollar Seattle property.
  • Microsoft = suburbs. Amazon = downtown.
  • How do you know it's summer in Seattle? The rain is warmer.

Related posts: AWS Revenue Slip?, AWS Q3 Revenue