Thursday, December 18, 2008

AWS - An awsome example of operational excellence

I have been very lucky in my career. I have learned a lot from colleagues and mentors who have coached me or influenced my thinking. I have also had the opportunity and privilege to work with awesome customers who have challenged my approach and pushed me forward in positive ways. It has been a great journey and I think it is fair to say that I have seen a good cross-section of different organizations manage IT challenges.

As I look back at many of my projects & customer engagements, I realize that underneath all the creative project codenames and new technology buzzwords, at the heart of the issues is operational excellence. It manifests itself in terms of sustained competitiveness, new market opportunities, agility, customer-centricity… and we apply different methods or techniques to help us get there, but operational excellence fundamentally remains the main driver for all the investments.

That brings me to Amazon. It had been quite a while since my last visit to Amazon Web Services (AWS), so I thought it was time to get current with what’s changed and new.

I was delighted to see a new breed of admin interface to EC2 ( and S3 (BucketExplorer, S3Fox). They make it super easy to manage Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) and files.

My Linux & Windows images booted in under 4 minutes (I picked the smallest servers) and I attached a new Elastic Block Storage (EBS) to store my application files in seconds. I was very impressed by the level of granularity and real-time usage report:

AWS exemplifies IT operational excellence in the following areas: Asset Management, Change Management, Provisioning, Service Level Management… Furthermore, they provide metrics and a level of transparency that is unprecedented.

In my 20 years of experience including 12 years of daily customer-facing roles, I haven’t seen any organization with such consistent & stable process maturity & execution.

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