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Amazon CTO Werner Vogels on SOA in Practice

by Stefan Tilkov on May 16, 2006 |
In an ACM Queue interview conducted by transaction guru and Microsoft researcher Jim Gray, Amazon.com CTO Werner Vogels provides very interesting  information about the business-related, technological and organizational aspects of Amazon's service-oriented platform. Some choice quotes:
The big architectural change that Amazon went through in the past five years was to move from a two-tier monolith to a fully-distributed, decentralized, services platform serving many different applications. A lot of innovation was necessary to make this happen, as we were one of the first to take this approach. Operating such a diverse set of services at this scale is not something that many people have done before, especially not with the kind of isolation that we wanted to achieve. [... ]
There is another lesson here: Giving developers operational responsibilities has greatly enhanced the quality of the services, both from a customer and a technology point of view. The traditional model is that you take your software to the wall that separates development and operations, and throw it over and then forget about it. Not at Amazon. You build it, you run it. This brings developers into contact with the day-to-day operation of their software. It also brings them into day-to-day contact with the customer. This customer feedback loop is essential for improving the quality of the service. [... ]
Do we see that customers who develop applications using AWS care about REST or SOAP? Absolutely not! A small group of REST evangelists continue to use the Amazon Web Services numbers to drive that distinction, but we find that developers really just want to build their applications using the easiest toolkit they can find. They are not interested in what goes on the wire or how request URLs get constructed; they just want to build their applications. [... ]
Given the fact that Vogels became Amazon.com's CTO in January 2005, it is difficult to assess how much of this has been influenced by him personally. Without a doubt, though, this is likely to become a milestone for SOA adoption as it seems to be one of the first publicly documented, large-scale SOA deployments by a very well-known company.

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