How Does Amazon Use Big Data to Improve Their Service?
The recent coverage of Amazon’s quest for a cloud platform for its Fire tablets has been widely misinterpreted. Amazon’s primary motive is not to take a technological leadership position in the cloud computing arena, but rather to make its existing technologies more accessible and ubiquitous. As part of that effort, Amazon is making an effort to change how we think about and utilize large data sets. The approach it is taking is the same one it has adopted in many of its other endeavors: leveraging data science, traditional analytics, and a wide variety of approaches to help collect, organize, analyze, and ultimately present that data in a meaningful way.
The confusion regarding how Amazon uses big data stems from two trends. First, some industry watchers have viewed Amazon’s announcement as simply another example of a technology giant unwilling to adopt an open source operating system. While the company is not adopting OpenStack or any other CloudStack competitor, it is providing an interface for cloud applications developers to use as they build more sophisticated and granular cloud services. That being said, there is no reason why users of an Amazon tablet should feel excluded or left out of this technological revolution.
A second point of confusion pertains to the actual purpose of Amazon’s initiative. Some have interpreted it as an attempt by Amazon to monopolize the cloud computing market, or to use its position as a dominant online retailer to force changes in the way service providers to process and route their data. Neither of these assumptions is true. In fact, Amazon’s use of big data has more to do with the ways in which it can serve customers and optimize its supply chain.
As was already mentioned, Amazon is a powerful competitor in the e-commerce marketplace. At the same time, it also serves as a technology leader within the realm of online retailing. E-Commerce was among the original markets to embrace the power of Web technologies. As such, it has a deep understanding of how Web applications interact with each other, and it has developed tools that allow E-Commerce sites to run applications faster and more efficiently than they would on their own.
Cloud applications are basically those that run and respond to requests over the Internet. The way in which Amazon has leveraged its position as one of the most prominent e-Commerce organizations makes sense. When someone types in a product term in a Web browser, it sends a request to an application which is running inside the Amazon servers. If the application is a robust and dependable piece of workhorse software, it will return a good estimate of the price of the item that is being sold. This helps the customer to make a more informed decision about purchasing the item.
The actual computation and analysis of the Amazon data flow is done by specialized computers. These programs take raw data and convert them into a usable format. They then store this data in manageable formats that are easily accessible by any program that understands the particular format. Once, the user requests information about a specific product term, the Amazon servers will send the request to the appropriate tool on the cloud. If the tool can analyze the data and give an acceptable estimate, the request is then sent back to the user.
The estimated price that was returned to the customer may have changed due to recent price spikes or short bursts of high demand. Amazon will then make its decision based on all of the relevant data and information that were returned to it. The decision is ultimately made by the system. While some analysts think that the data used to make these estimates may be too coarse to use in making a reliable forecast, Amazon has claimed that it uses “finite and accurate” mathematical algorithms to make its calculations. Whatever the case, it is certainly a more efficient method than traditional methods.
As more companies begin to embrace the benefits of cloud computing and the Internet, the question of how does Amazon use big data will undoubtedly be at the forefront. As more Ecommerce businesses adopt the Cloud, the demand for accurate and timely information will no doubt increase. Until such time, however, it appears that the Cloud will continue to serve as a useful means of delivering this type of information to individuals and organizations. Cloud computing appears to be moving forward at a rapid pace.