Great tech innovators: Werner Vogels

A creator of clouds

  • Age: 56
  • Company: Amazon
  • Best known for: Amazon Web Services
  • Quote: "In the fine grained services approach that we use at Amazon, services do not only represent a software structure but also the organizational structure. The services have a strong ownership model, which combined with the small team size is intended to make it very easy to innovate."

Werner Vogels is one of cloud computing's most notable innovators. As the CTO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), he is tasked with driving innovation within the service provider and seeing that it provides scalable, low cost infrastructure that's available to all.

After joining Amazon in September 2004 as the director of Systems Research, the distributed computing expert became Chief Technology Officer in January 2005 and then Vice President in March of that year.

According to research house Gartner, AWS has more than five times the cloud compute capacity in use than its top four competitors combined. And with demand for cheap computing and storage power accelerating as more people use smartphones, tablets and wearables - in addition to Internet of Things devices - ensuring scalability is key.

Vogels is a champion of getting people to work in "two-pizza teams" - ones that are small enough to drive innovation if the groups can feed off limited amounts of food.

In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicted that Amazon Web Services will eventually overtake the company's retail operation to become Amazon's biggest business. Vogels is the only executive, Bezos aside, who speaks publicly about the company.

Before Amazon, Vogels worked as a researcher at Cornell University, where he led projects that focused on the scalability and robustness of mission-critical enterprise systems. The Dutchman holds a PhD from the Vrije Universities in Amsterdam.

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