Amazon Web Services sales team “in the thousands,” CEO Andy Jassy reveals


One could say Amazon Web Services has a spring in its step, unleashing a bevy of new services for today’s hottest computing trends at this week’s re:Invent conference, from machine learning to the Internet of Things.

Now in its 10th year, AWS has been an undeniably disruptive force in enterprise IT, ushering in a new way of doing business, from purchasing to coding to application deployment. Judging by the enthusiasm at re:Invent, there are effectively two players when it comes to cloud services: AWS and everybody else. For its part, AWS has proven a leader in the enterprise, helping to define what companies mean when they talk about the cloud.

Central to AWS’ success is focusing on customers, according to AWS Chief Executive Andy Jassy, who also revealed never-before disclosed information regarding the size of his sales team. He sat down with John Furrier (@furrier) and Stu Miniman (@stu), co-hosts of theCUBE*, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, at re:Invent, to discuss AWS’ differentiated spin on cloud computing.

Innovative principles

The conversation started with a look at one of Amazon’s guiding principles. Most of the tech sector’s stalwarts are competitor-focused, but that’s not AWS, Jassy explained. AWS is customer-focused, he stated. “Everything we do starts with the customer and moves backwards from there,” Jassy said.

Equally as important for AWS’ strategy is innovation, according to Jassy. “We are pioneers,” he said, saying that AWS is able to “read between the lines” of customer feedback and “invent on their behalf.” Its rivals, Jassy added, have “lost their will and their DNA to invent and acquire most of their innovation.”

While Jassy admitted such strategies may work for the tech giants of the old guard, “a space as dynamic as the cloud, which is the biggest technology shift in our lifetime, [a company] is much better off with a partner that has the most functionality, that is iterating the fastest, has the most amount of customers, has the biggest ecosystem and who’s had the vision for how these things fit together from the start,” he said.

Scalability is also key to AWS’ success because a business needs massive scale for people to choose them as a functional technology platform, Jassy stated. AWS has been successful because it has iterated and delivered new features so quickly, according to the executive. “The pace of raw innovation on the AWS platform is very unusual and it creates its own flywheel. Because you don’t have to pay $100 million upfront to buy an infrastructure platform and only have to pay for what you use, when you have to make the choice of who you’re going to partner with, you want the platform with the most capability.”

This ability to scale is crucial in attracting its beloved customers, as it facilitates not only the transfer of existing applications, but the launching of new applications as well. The appeal for the enterprise is an ability to launch “any imaginable business idea,” Jassy explained.

Having proven its case for extending its own infrastructure innovations as enterprise services, Miniman asked if AWS would do the same with its data. With massive data reserves and deep learning capabilities, AWS is presented with a strong market opportunity to layer in more analytics services. One of the significant things the market will see is customers wanting to layer their analytics and machine learning models on top of that data, Jassy predicted.

Sales team growing rapidly

As an undisputed innovator in enterprise-grade cloud services, AWS still faces the market’s misconception that it lacks a strong sales force, particularly compared to Microsoft’s own cloud platform Azure. Can AWS shake the notion that it’s just a self-service cloud?

“When we launched AWS in 2006 we had two salespeople,” Jassy recalled. “Since then we have a very large field team with a lot of sellers and solutions architects.”

While AWS won’t disclose exact numbers, Jassy did mention the company’s salesforce is in the thousands and is continuing to grow at a rapid rate.

Watch the complete video interview below, as the trio goes on to discuss the leadership principles and culture at AWS, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of AWS re:Invent. (*Disclosure: AWS and other companies sponsor some AWS re:Invent segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither AWS nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo by SiliconANGLE