A front row seat to innovation at AWS: How Andy Jassy re-invents disruption | #GuestOfTheWeek


Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud infrastructure provider, dwarfs its competitors and is disrupting the technology industry and the world. During the recent AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas, which hosted 32,000 attendees, AWS celebrated its tenth birthday, made 27 product announcements, and brought an eighteen-wheeler on stage. Leading AWS, which serves more than 5 million customers and organizations around the world, is Andy Jassy, chief operating officer of AWS.

“AWS has pioneered a technology infrastructure that trades capital for variable expense. It has cut the cost of doing business down to the lowest it’s ever been, provides real elasticity, the ability to move quickly, and lets innovators spend their scarce resources on driving product and service differentiation, not housekeeping,” according to John Furrier (@furrier), founder of SiliconANGLE.com, in an article for Forbes magazine titled Exclusive Profile: Andy Jassy of Amazon Web Service (AWS) and His Trillion Dollar Cloud Ambition.

AWS re:Invent 2016 produced lots of media content that ranged from lauding the AWS announcements to the deep analytical probing of the company’s future. During the event, Furrier and Dave Vellante (@dvellante), co-hosts of theCUBE*, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, spent time with Jassy to get to know the man behind the innovation. (*Disclosure below)

This week, theCUBE chose Andy Jassy as our Guest of the Week. Find out in his own words what made AWS the cloud provider that Gartner reported as being several times the aggregate size of the next 14 cloud providers combined in 2015 and holding “the largest share of compute capacity in use by paying customers …” in 2016.

The man who put invent in reinvent

Jassy, a Harvard MBA, began his career with Amazon in the early 2000s working as a technical adviser to founder Jeff Bezos. The AWS Cloud was born out of trying to solve an issue the company was having with one of its biggest resellers, Target. In solving the problem, the ingenuity of the Amazon team created the AWS Cloud.

In April of this year, Jassy — the head of Amazon Web Services — received a well-deserved promotion to chief executive officer of the business unit. The company culture under his leadership is unique and strictly adheres to Amazon’s 14 Leadership Principles. “I think they have been the single most important reason we have been able to scale as fast as we have and scale across the world the way we have, without losing our culture. … One of them is hiring and developing the best, and we are vigilant about not lowering the bar,” Jassy revealed.

He described the culture as a “truth-seeking culture” that encourages debate and deliberation. He also subscribes to the principle of “being right a lot,” explaining that great leadership requires taking in all perspectives and having the ability to change course based on all the information.

When it comes to disrupting the industry, Jassy believes that there is only one way to do it: Think about the customers. He credits his team with developing new features and capabilities that enable the customer to build out services for their businesses. He was excited to see his team interact with customers and be part of what he calls “the movement.”

Jassy explained: “It’s a movement because it allows customers to build customers much quicker than ever before and change their businesses.”

The AWS re:Invent theme this year centered around the “superpowers” AWS gives its customers. And Jassy felt that through the latest innovations, the customer has the ability to take on any technical challenge build and implement any idea they can imagine.

Ingrained in every aspect of the AWS business is a customer-centric philosophy that infiltrates the way the company thinks about products, competitors and the ecosystem. “Everything we do starts with the customer and moves backward from there. Ninety percent of our roadmap and what we build is driven by what customers tell us matters, and the other 10 percent is we try to listen to our customers, trying to articulate and read between the lines and invent on their behalf,” Jassy stated.

Moreover, AWS doesn’t focus on the competitor — a philosophy that started with Bezos and remains with Jassy today. Quite simply, the company is not like the old guard that waits to see what a competitor is doing or acquires companies for their technology. AWS is comprised of a team of inventors who are building what they understand the customer needs.

“I think in a space as dynamic as the cloud, which is the biggest technology shift in our lifetime, you are much better off with a partner that has the most functionality, that is iterating the fastest, the most amount of customers, biggest ecosystem, who has had the vision of how these things fit together from the start,” Jassy maintained.

He illustrated just how different AWS is from the old guard and discussed why this will affect the overall cloud market, which he feels will only have a handful of successful players, with AWS still being the leader.

Is AWS too cocky? Jassy thinks not. He pointed out the team culture at AWS doesn’t have room for arrogance due to the company’s fixation on solving customer issues. “I don’t think any of us would have had the audacity to predict that we would be where we are, but I think we all know the next 10 years are going to have even more innovation and change then the first 10 years,” he concluded.

Watch the video below to hear about the success of AWS from Andy Jassy in his own words. And check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of AWS re:Invent. (*Disclosure: AWS and other companies sponsor some AWS re:Invent segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither AWS nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo by SiliconANGLE