adrian cock­croft, aWS

Adrian Cock­croft, Vice Pres­i­dent, Cloud Ar­chi­tec­ture Strat­egy, Ama­zon Web Ser­vices

HWM (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - by Michael Low

What are you bring­ing to AWS from your past ex­pe­ri­ences at Net­flix and Bat­tery Ven­tures?

Be­fore join­ing AWS in last Oc­to­ber, I was with Net­flix a lit­tle over three years ago, and spent most part of al­most three years at Bat­tery Ven­tures, a tech-fo­cused in­vest­ment firm where open source be­came ta­ble stakes and eco­nom­i­cally com­pet­i­tive. With open source, you can get great cus­tomer adop­tion for free, and then fig­ure out a way to build a busi­ness model out of it. Get­ting this bal­ance right is one of the big chal­lenges, par­tic­u­larly in the en­ter­prise IT space.

The ex­pe­ri­ence I bring to AWS is a com­bi­na­tion of what Net­flix is do­ing, which is build­ing a plat­form and go­ing through the process of open sourc­ing it, plus the ex­pe­ri­ence I gained from the VC (ven­ture cap­i­tal) world, from a wide range of star­tups to the chal­lenges they have in mon­e­tiz­ing open source.

We also brought in Za­heda Bho­rat as AWS’ Head of Open Source Strat­egy, who brings with her 15 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in the field. Be­tween us, we cov­ered many dif­fer­ent as­pects of open source prob­lems that we’re try­ing to solve.

Tell us more about your role as VP of Cloud Ar­chi­tec­ture Strat­egy.

Dur­ing my Net­flix days, we were push­ing AWS to im­ple­ment new fea­tures. To­day, one of my roles at AWS – apart from pre­sent­ing at AWS Sum­mits – in­volve talk­ing to as many cus­tomers as I can find who are push­ing our cloud ar­chi­tec­ture to its lim­its, and look be­yond the most im­me­di­ate needs for the wider base. Given AWS’ cus­tomer-ob­sessed fo­cus, it makes sense that our in­ter­nal pro­jects and strat­egy are syn­the­sized with the valu­able in­puts that I gather from the cus­tomer base.

My other role re­volved around open source, build­ing a team to lead open source en­gage­ment with ecosys­tems for AWS. There are pro­jects that we want to sup­port, some of them backed by com­mer­cial en­ti­ties, so we de­velop a part­ner re­la­tion­ship with them. Docker for AWS is a great ex­am­ple, where we have Docker Cap­tain Arun Gupta fo­cused on the con­tainer ecosys­tem. There are also pro­jects where we built our own ser­vices on top of open source so­lu­tions, such as Ama­zon Elas­tic MapRe­duce (EMR) for Hadoop. For non­prof­its with open source pro­jects and HPC foun­da­tions like the Open-MPI con­sor­tium, we lend our sup­port in the form of free cred­its and train­ings.

One of the com­mu­ni­ties we’re sup­port­ing is MXNet, a deep learn­ing frame­work out of Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity (CMU) that joined the Apache In­cu­ba­tor, and is cur­rently sup­ported by Mi­crosoft, Red Hat, Ap­ple, Wol­fram Re­search, and a wide range of com­pa­nies. The move pro­vides a very well un­der­stood frame­work and level play­ing field for con­tri­bu­tions across mul­ti­ple com­pa­nies, which will be in­creas­ingly im­por­tant mov­ing for­ward. We’re adding more doc­u­men­ta­tion, and hard­en­ing it for com­mer­cial use, as well as mov­ing it to be used within AWS’ var­i­ous AI-re­lated pro­jects and the wider Ama­zon.com com­mu­nity.

What were some of the more no­table feedback from AWS cus­tomers?

For Malaysia, I met up with Astro and Maxis Ber­had. Based on the feedback from Malaysian cus­tomers, there are two prob­lems to ad­dress when go­ing through

As some­one who has worked closely with AWS over the years, what is it like to be on the other side of the equa­tion? Many at AWS saw that as an ob­vi­ous move, re­ally. A good part of the re­la­tion­ship dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion: man­age­ment and tech­nol­ogy. The is­sue lies not with the cloud, as the two must hap­pen to­gether. By lever­ag­ing a top-down/bot­tom-up ap­proach, tech­nol­ogy adop­tions al­low the engi­neers to go faster, while an or­ga­ni­za­tion re­struc­ture en­ables them to adapt and man­age bet­ter, re­sult­ing in a feedback loop that en­sures the right out­comes hap­pen.

I also met up with Grab and DBS in Sin­ga­pore, where GovTech – a tech­nol­ogy group sim­i­lar to the ideas be­hind the U.K. gov­ern­ment’s GOV.UK group, which is re­ally about in­no­vat­ing and de­ploy­ing rapid ser­vices and so­lu­tions com­pared to a typ­i­cal gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment process. be­tween Net­flix and AWS was the en­gi­neer­ing cul­ture. The com­pa­nies are very dif­fer­ent in some ways. Cer­tainly in scale, Net­flix is a much smaller com­pany, just a few thou­sands peo­ple, while Ama­zon is a much more glob­ally spread and di­verse or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The 14 Man­age­ment Prin­ci­ples at AWS are re­ally the glue that holds the com­pany to­gether, mak­ing sure that ev­ery­one – from top to bot­tom – re­main cus­tomer ob­sessed, think big, and dive deep into things. The en­gi­neer­ing process – the way it scales – is ex­tremely im­pres­sive, and that’s one of the rea­sons I was ex­cited to join AWS. In some sense, it feels like a huge VC firm with many startup ideas and ag­ile teams that are able to move for­ward and de­ploy them at scale.

This is why we’ve been able to ac­cel­er­ate the num­ber of AWS ser­vices and fea­tures – 1,017 in 2016 up from 722 the year be­fore it. We’re ac­cel­er­at­ing our pace of in­no­va­tion and that’s how we’re stay­ing ahead.

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