Chief Of The Year: Amazon CTO Werner Vogels

Amazon's external-facing CTO is helping to devise a cloud computing architecture with customer requirements built-in.
After spending half a day at Amazon's headquarters, I still had questions for Vogels, but, traveling somewhere in Europe, he had gone silent. Nevertheless, it's easy enough to follow Vogels. He's all over the Web--blogging, Twittering, and talking up cloud computing in interviews and on video.

With his Dutch accent, Vogels comes across as a bit of a Renaissance man--a music buff, photographer, and patron of the arts who speaks four languages and rides a motorcycle. His Twitter posts alternate between references to server optimization and network latency and an appreciation for "marvelous absurdistic physical theater."

I click on a video replay of Kara Swisher's on-stage chat with Vogels at LeWeb. Amazon's CTO tells the audience that the conversation with customers has shifted from cloud security to application deployment. Customers want to know how to move existing applications into the cloud, how much engineering work is involved, and how to exploit the functionality that Amazon makes available, he says.

Vogels, surprisingly, tells Swisher that security isn't the big issue it once was with customers, but he admits that AWS--which has experienced a number of hours-long service outages this year--has work to do in the area of reliability. "There's no excuse for any downtime or failure," he says. "One hundred percent availability is the only goal that you can have."

It's a reminder that, even though Amazon is four years into cloud computing, it's only recently begun addressing the stringent requirements of enterprise customers, and that work is unfinished. Amazon's flagship EC2 service, in beta testing for two years, became generally available just two months ago. Its SimpleDB relational database service is in beta testing. EC2 monitoring, management, load balancing, and autoscaling are still on the road map.

As my deadline approaches, Vogels resurfaces. I ask him about lingering concerns over data governance, security, and reliability in the cloud. He responds via e-mail that Amazon works with customers to address these concerns, but that "no customer has exactly the same needs as another."

In other words, with Bell driving AWS development and Selipsky managing front-line relationships, Vogels will need to keep racking up the frequent-flier miles. As Amazon reaches out to customers, his ability to articulate the benefits of cloud computing will have a lot do with whether they return the embrace. Years of engineering and cloud development are behind Amazon; the bigger job lies ahead.

Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls Of Fire
Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed
Foo Fighters, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
In a blog post, Vogels picked a favorite
album from his collection for each year
since he was born.
1958 Jerry Lee Lewis, Great Balls Of Fire
1959 Ray Charles, What I'd Say
1960 Miles Davis, Sketches Of Spain
1961 Robert Johnson, King Of The Delta Blues Singers
1962 Booker T & the MG's, Green Onions
1963 James Brown, Live At The Apollo
1964 John Coltrane, Love Supreme
1965 Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited
1966 Cream, Fresh Cream
1967 The Doors, The Doors
1968 Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
1969 Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed
1970 The Who, Live At Leeds
1971 Marvin Gaye, What's Going On
1972 Deep Purple, Made In Japan
1973 Pink Floyd, Dark Side Of The Moon
1974 Genesis, The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
1975 Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
1976 Eagles, Hotel California
1977 The Stranglers, Rattus Norvegicus
1978 Herman Brood & His Wild Romance, Shpritsz
1979 The Clash, London Calling
1980 AC/DC, Black In Black
1981 The Police, Ghost In The Machine
1982 Steel Pulse, True Democracy
1983 U2, Under A Blood Red Sky
1984 Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense
1985 John Cougar Mellencamp, Scarecrow
1986 Run DMC, Raising Hell
1987 Guns N' Roses, Appetite For Destruction
1988 Public Enemy, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
1989 Eric Clapton, Journeyman
1990 Angelo Badalamenti, Twin Peaks Soundtrack
1991 Nirvana, Nervermind
1992 Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against The Machine
1993 Live, Throwing Copper
1994 Neil Young, Sleeps With Angels
1995 Garbage, Garbage
1996 James Cotton, Deep In The Blues
1997 Erykah Badu, Baduizm
1998 DMX, Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood
1999 Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication
2000 Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP
2001 The Strokes, Is This It
2002 Richard Locker, Jewish Cello Masterpieces
2003 Linkin Park, Meteora
2004 Green Day, American Idiot
2005 Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
2006 Matisyahu, Youth
2007 Foo Fighters, Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

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Q&A: Amazon CTO Werner Vogels