Werner Vogels, CTO and VP of Amazon Web Services, joined Amazon in 2004 as director of systems research, coming from a computer science research post at Cornell University. In Holland, he had been a student of some of the leading minds in computing. The late Jim Gray, a Turing Award winner "for seminal contributions to database and transaction processing research and technical leadership in system implementation," was a proctor for Vogels' defense of his PhD thesis at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. At Vrije, Vogels' advisers included Andrew Tannenbaum, who wrote standard textbooks on operating systems as well as the code for the Minix operating system, and Henri Bal, a specialist in large, parallel systems.
He became Amazon CTO early in 2005 and later that year was named VP. He's had a vision of a new type of distributed system, one that relied on inexpensive parts but could scale out infinitely, making the Amazon Compute Cloud elastic and not come to a halt if a piece of hardware failed underneath it. He was an advocate of Amazon getting into the business of distributing virtual server computing cycles over the Internet and charging on a basis of time, and got the chance to advocate enterprises adopt it as Amazon's first "outward facing" CTO. He has been a tireless evangelizer for greater use of the Amazon public cloud. His expertise, commitment and credibility were essential to establishing the broad acceptance that Amazon Web Services enjoyed from an early stage.