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Werner Vogels

Werner Vogels
Werner Vogels (Image credit: markralston/Getty Images)

As one of the architects behind Amazon’s cloud services, Vogels drives technological innovation at scale. Following a stint in the Royal Netherlands Navy in his youth, Vogels went into cancer research and soon realized “it wasn’t the field for me.” He shifted to computing research, focused on large-scale distributed computing (and is now deemed one of the world’s top experts on ultrascalable systems). 

Vogels has seen many industries, including media and entertainment, leverage cloud agility to roll out new applications and innovate faster. “The original M&E processes and workflows were developed in a time where you didn’t have modern cloud capabilities and everything existed onsite,” he said. “So collaborating with another studio often meant literally shipping hard drives back and forth. But, we’ve started to see this model flip on its head.” He says AWS now helps M&E customers with “everything from broadcast and film production workflows, to visual effects and rendering, to live and on-demand streaming” and that customers use AWS “to collaborate in ways they couldn’t before.”

Vogels described many use cases where M&E companies are using AWS, highlighting how Hulu uses AWS to support more than 50 channels for its Live TV offering; how Netflix uses more than 100,000 server instances on AWS, and how Amazon Prime uses AWS for seamless targeted advertising. Other clients include CBS Interactive (CBSi), which employs the cloud to support major events such as March Madness and the Super Bowl at speed and scale, and film franchises like “Avatar” and the “Lord of the Rings” film franchises, which use visual effects from Weta powered by AWS. Vogels emphasized that customers are at the heart Amazon’s innovation. A recent example of that is the 2019 Tech Emmy Award-winning work that Discovery and Fox NE&O (of Walt Disney Television) undertook to shift their media supply chains to the cloud with AWS and partners at SDVI Corp. and Evertz Technologies. 

Werner expects that with changing dynamics and economic demands, media companies will continue to move their businesses to the cloud “to make their video infrastructures more automated and scalable so that they can put all their energy into innovating new services.” The cloud will enable “high-quality viewing experiences with low latency and no buffering,” Vogel noted. He also foresees the growing use of machine learning for highlight creation, video clipping, live subtitling, metadata extraction and interactive features such as polling and live chat to engage more deeply with viewers.