SCS Distinguished Industry Lecture

  • Gates Hillman Center
  • Rashid Auditorium 4401
  • CHARLIE BELL
  • Senior Vice President
  • AWS Utility Computing Services
  • Amazon
Distinguished Lecture Series

Contract Law for Computer Scientists (or, How I Learned to Stop Loving SQL)

Reception: 4:10 pm

We’ve all learned that coding modularly improves speed of development and reliability.  But what does that mean at massive engineering scale? The talk will provide some history of Amazon.com and how it was forced to think about technical and organizational scale in the early days. This lead to the concept of building services (code plus all the stuff running it) as hardened interfaces between software development teams. This in turn lead us to simplify how we thought about the software systems themselves. For example, we decomposed our persistence layers from complex relational databases into more primitive-yet-predictable (and scalable) persistence services.

Fast forwarding, today this approach is in AWS’s DNA. You can see this in how we’ve started from the basic building block services (compute, storage, networking) and have built increasingly higher-level services on top. The use of services with hardened interfaces has allowed us to innovate behind the API to simultaneously build quickly, reduce cost, and improve reliability.  Just as a commercial jet can be thought of as “a few hundred thousand parts, flying in close formation,” AWS looks like “1000’s of startups building a single operating system.”

Charlie Bell began his career as a developer of mini-computer software used in engineering of space shuttle payload mixes in 1979. After graduating from California State University, Fullerton with a degree in Business Administration in 1981, Mr. Bell took a hiatus from software development and moved into project engineering of integrated space shuttle cargoes. In 1989, he joined Oracle's field services team where, for seven years, he managed numerous transactional systems projects.  In 1996, Mr. Bell left Oracle and joined Server Technologies Group as CEO and co-founder to build internet commerce transaction software.  The team at Server Technologies fell in love with a client, and in March 1998 closed doors, moved across the lake, and joined Amazon.com where they now serve various roles in information technology.

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