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Was InfoWorld's CTO of the Year award a year late?

Werner Vogels, the now legendary CTO of Amazon and one of the key drivers of the AWS vision, was awarded InfoWorld's CTO of the Year Award. I'm left wondering why it took this long.

James Urquhart
James Urquhart is a field technologist with almost 20 years of experience in distributed-systems development and deployment, focusing on service-oriented architectures, cloud computing, and virtualization. James is a market strategist for cloud computing at Cisco Systems and an adviser to EnStratus, though the opinions expressed here are strictly his own. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET.
James Urquhart
2 min read

Congratulations to Werner Vogels, the now legendary CTO of Amazon and one of the principle drivers of the Amazon Web Services vision. InfoWorld announced Sunday that Werner earned its CTO of the Year award. The accolades are rolling in from all over, but I think all agree that this was a well-deserved recognition for Werner and his team. In fact, Werner's recognition of the team effort that led to this award just makes him that much more of a class act.

What leaves me shaking my head, however, is that it took this long to see the incredible feat that Amazon pulled off, and the leadership that pushed a retail goods company to see compute capacity as a logical extension of their business. It was a huge gamble, and I'm sure I speak for developers and system administrators alike that what AWS has accomplished is unparalleled. However, that was about two years ago now, and most of the critical services offered are more than a year old. Granted, cloud as a topic only exploded since the late spring/early summer of 2007, but it exploded in part because Amazon announced EC2.

AWS is really one of the more historic feats of the "commodity box" generation; an achievement in pawning off excess compute capacity to the masses that grew into a business in its own right (though perhaps not as big a business as selling books). I know of five or six failed attempts by Fortune 500 companies to attempt the creation of an IT hosting business using excess capacity, but they all failed. Certainly none of them became a trusted mass market service like AWS.

I stand with thousands of IT professionals in awe of the accomplishments at Amazon, and offering heartfelt congratulations to that dynasty of cloud computing pioneers. The future of the cloud is far from over, and you still may become the Compuserve or AOL of capacity, but you have already secured a place in history as the first and the best of your time.