Without Amazon, most of the internet disappears
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Without Amazon, most of the internet disappears

So when you think of Amazon, you probably think of this ugly website or maybe Amazon buying Whole Foods and making avocados cheaper. But Amazon also sits behind a
huge portion of the internet. It dominates the server side computers that make the internet work. Right now, you’re probably
watching this video on a computer or a phone.
But when you click “play,” it isn’t just your computer
that’s doing the work. There’s another computer
somewhere out there in the world that’s sending the video to you, playing it along with you
from hundreds of miles away. And a lot of those
computers are run by Amazon. Most people online have
no idea they’re there. You only see them when you
look at the big picture. So what do those computers look like? They mostly look like this, a loud room with a ton of server racks. But while you might
expect that Apple servers are run by Apple and Netfix’s
servers are run by Netflix, the reality is weirder. See, if your servers are
just all in one room, then any network problem between you and the rest of the internet can bring down your whole system. So you want to give people as many ways to reach your website as possible, which means a whole
constellation of servers all around the world. That’s where host networks like
Amazon Web Services come in. AWS has dozens of data
centers in strategic points all around the world. It’s a kind of secondary
internet that’s completely controlled by Amazon. If someone in Chicago wants
to watch Stranger Things, and the Ohio fiber is tied up, they can get it from Oregon. If Oregon’s tied up, they
can get it from Quebec. You’ve probably heard of cloud computing, and this is what it means. It’s not some abstract cloud; it’s just a bunch of
warehouses full of thousands of servers networked together and rented out piece by piece. You can buy a big piece,
like Netflix and Apple, or a tiny piece for a single
website or piece of code. That flexibility has made AWS one of the biggest forces on the web, controlling as much as 40 percent of the programs running in the public cloud. When you take that 40 percent away, the internet starts to
look really different. Want to watch Netflix? Too bad, it’s gone. Same thing with Uber, Expedia, Yelp, Pinterest, and tons more. This isn’t just hypothetical. AWS still has regional blackouts sometimes if the system gets misconfigured. They’re usually fixed
within an hour or two, but while it lasts, you’re
stuck with companies like Facebook and Google
that are big enough to build their own server networks. So how did Amazon end up
owning most of the internet? Through the ‘90s, Amazon’s
web team was just devoted to making sure amazon.com loaded fast and didn’t go down. They got good enough that in 2000, they started to sell that
system to other companies. So if Target or Walmart
wanted to get into e-commerce, Amazon could build them an online store using the same technology. From there, the services kept getting more basic and fundamental. AWS officially launched in
2006 just storing files. A few months later, they
launched the ability to run programs remotely. They just kept growing,
adding more features and data centers and users until it became the monster we know today. It’s hard to say how an
online store ended up dominating the server
market while competitors like Oracle and IBM fell away. But the simple answer is
that while other companies got good at making deals
and filling contracts, Amazon treated server time
like any other product, making it as fast, cheap,
and fluid as possible. Now, cloud computing is
still really competitive. Microsoft’s Azure service
is nearly as big as Amazon, and Google’s in there fighting
for more business, too. But AWS is still basically
the gold standard, and it’s become a really
profitable business for the company. In the first quarter of this year, AWS brought in $7.7 billion in revenue, roughly half the company’s profit. So what does Amazon do
with all that money? Well, the nice thing
about being a massive multiprong company is that you can use profitable parts of the
business to funnel money to other parts that are still mature. For Amazon, that means growing
services like Amazon Prime or launching new products
under Amazon Basics, which can be priced so cheap that they drive competitors
out of business. That’s kind of awkward for Netflix, which is indirectly funding Amazon’s competing streaming
service under Amazon Prime. But it seems like it’s worked out so far. When Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017, that same dynamic was on full display. Whole Foods is always
going to be more expensive than your local grocery store, but Amazon lowered prices up front to reel customers in. And because they had billions of dollars pouring out of the server business, they could afford to. What does that mean for you? Well for one, it means
when AWS does go down, most of the internet just disappears. But as long as it keeps working, Amazon’s basically printing
money and pouring it into other Amazon products, which means your Netflix binge ends up making your avocado a little bit cheaper. Thanks for watching. If you
want to know more about Amazon and their stranglehold
on the avocado industry, we have a whole other
video about their attempt to start a headquarters in New York that ended up not working out. And as always, like and subscribe and eat avocados.


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