Amazon vice president and chief technology officer Werner Vogels has kept the company at the forefront of scalable systems since he joined in 2004. Vogels was one of the main driving forces behind the architecture of Amazon Web Services (AWS). His insistent reminders that "everything fails all the time" have been hugely influential to the developers of high-availability systems. Here, he talks about continuing to innovate in database technology—and keeping up with customer needs.
You have followed an unconventional professional path, working at the Netherlands Cancer Institute before returning to school for a Ph.D. in computer science. What drew you to scalable systems?