AWS CEO Jassy On Not Building Technology For The Sake Of Being 'Cool'

Press Time

Following his keynote at re:Invent 2017 on Wednesday, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy conducted a Q&A session with members of the press in attendance at the conference. Jassy shared his opinions on a wide swath of topics, such as hybrid cloud approaches and whether he believes artificial intelligence could eliminate jobs, but he also touched on where the opportunities are for solution providers partnering with AWS.

Below are excerpts from the Q&A that solution providers would be interested to learn.

Will AWS try to exceed $20 billion in revenue soon, and will it eventually be spun out as a separate company?

Do I think that AWS can be a $20 billion business in time? Yes, I do. We have an $18 billion annual run rate today. We don't have set targets on what we are trying to reach revenue-wise each year. We make a projection, all the business units do, but when we are talking about a market segment that is so big and so dynamic, we try to remind ourselves that we are just at the early stages of enterprise adoption in the U.S. Outside the U.S., it's about 12 to 36 months behind, depending on the country.

I've been at Amazon for 20 years and I've learned to never say never, but I would be very surprised if we spun out AWS, mostly because there isn't a need to do so. If you look at the history of Amazon, we aren't focused on the optics of the financial statements. We are comfortable being misunderstood for long periods of time. The company was so gracious committing capital we needed to grow AWS in the first 11 years, that there really isn't a need to do so.

What is the opportunity for channel partners with Kubernetes?

It's the same opportunity as every place in our business. We have thousands of systems integrators who built practices on AWS and they are doing a really wide range of things. We have a lot of SIs trying to make it much easier for enterprises to do mass migrations to the cloud. We have SIs focused on the machine-learning side and IoT side, and SIs working with SAP applications. We also have a bunch of them trying to help smaller companies use some of the smaller units of compute, like containers. I think now that customers have multiple choices for managed container services on AWS and the ability to run those containers without having to worry about servers, it opens up all kinds of opportunities for partners to help their customers move to containers.

What do you think about blockchain?

It's really interesting and we spend a fair bit of time looking at blockchain. We've had a lot of partners and customers building blockchains on top of AWS and services for others to use on AWS. We are watching it carefully. We talk to customers, and they are very interested in the concept, but we don't yet see a lot of practical use cases using blockchain. We don't build technology because we think the technology is cool, we only build it if we think we can solve a specific customer problem, where building that service will solve the problem. So far, with the vast majority of use cases, there are other ways to solve those problem more easily.

What do you think about hybrid cloud strategies, and customers that aren't ready to give up their data centers?

I think we are in transition stage for sure right now. I think in time, relatively few companies will own their own data centers, and those that do will have much smaller footprints than they have today. But that means that all that computing is moving to the cloud in the coming years. That said, it's not going to happen overnight. There are lot of enterprise who are not ready to retire their data centers and they want to be able to run existing data centers as seamlessly as possible with AWS. If you look at a lot of things we built over the last six years, they have been of that mind. Things like Virtual Private Cloud and Direct Connect.

One of the things that really changed how we are thinking about hybrid and what we want to do is we've had a series of conversations with enterprises that want to use the cloud and want to use their data centers, and [we are] making them make this binary decision that we really don’t like … that's what led to VMware and AWS having a conversation about how we could solve that for customers.

Do you think artifical intelligence will take away jobs?

I think it's interesting to talk about the rise of AI taking away a lot of jobs. I happen to think it's going to create jobs, they are just going to be different jobs. I think there are some types of services that forever have been people doing manually -- like transcription or translation -- that force companies to only use a fraction of the data they want to use, and I think they'll be better served by AI like services. If you look at what's happening in the U.S., people that have followed family members into mines, those jobs are moving out of the U.S. and they aren't coming back soon, and it's all right because it's progress, and people will find different ways to do things, but it usually opens up new opportunities. There are tons of jobs and we don't have enough people to do them, but we as a world need to do a better job of changing the education system so that more people are ready to do the jobs that are available.