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Officially launched in 2006, Amazon Web Services provides online services for other web sites or client-side applications.[1] Most of these service are not exposed directly to end users, but instead offer functionality that other developers can use in their applications. Amazon Web Services’ offerings are accessed over HTTP, using the REST architectural style and SOAP protocol. All services are billed based on usage, but how usage is measured for billing varies from service to service.

In late 2003, Chris Pinkham and Benjamin Black presented a paper describing a vision for Amazon’s retail computing infrastructure that was completely standardized, completely automated, and would rely extensively on web services for services such as storage, drawing on internal work already underway. Near the end they mentioned the possibility of selling virtual servers as a sevice, proposing the company could generate revenue from the new infrastructure investment.[14] The first AWS ervice launched for public usage was Simple Queue Service in November 2004.[15] Amazon EC2 was built by a team in Cape Town, South Africa, under Pinkham and lead developer Chris Brown.[16]

In June 2007, Amazon claimed that more than 180,000 developers had signed up to use Amazon Web Services.[17]

In November 2010, it was reported that all of Amazon.com retail web services had been moved to AWS.[18]

On April 20, 2011, some parts of Amazon Web  suffered a major outage. A portion of volumes using the Elastic Block Store (EBS)  became “stuck” and were unable to fulfill read/write requests. It took at least two days for service to be fully restored.[19] On June 29, 2012, several websites that rely on Amazon Web Services were taken offline due to a severe storm of historic proportions in Northern Virginia, where AWS’ largest datacenter cluster is located.[20]