Over the last month, we’ve been interviewing former AWS executives to answer a specific question: in the long run, are AWS’ compute and storage services commoditised?

We’ve covered a range of angles, including:

Last week, we published an interview with a Former AWS executive who was responsible for managing data centers that contributed ~33% of AWS’ revenue. The interview explores how to run a hyper scale data center, capacity planning, and server lifetime.

In this analysis, we explore a few interesting points from the interview that address the question of hyperscaler commoditization.

Firstly, the scale of an AWS data center is incredible: each center is ~20,000 square meters, takes 3 years to build, and costs ~$1bn to prepare without the servers:

it costs about $1 billion to build out a hyperscale data center just to get it ready to start taking in your first rack. Our hyperscale data centers were about 30 megawatts, and we had about 700 racks per hyperscale data center. Each position was around 25 to 30 kVA or kilowatts, about 20,000 square meters each. - Former Director at AWS

Then you need to add 700 racks, pay staff, and power the servers. This amounts to ~$1bn in opex per year to run a hyperscale center:

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