How did famously cloudy, rainy Seattle get to be known as the home of Cloud Computing? The obvious answers are that Amazon and Microsoft are based here. But why did these two companies and this city become the pioneers of cloud computing when so much else in the tech world revolves around Silicon Valley and the many companies based there?
I can’t answer these questions, but I do have some thoughts. I grew up in the area, embedded in Seattle culture. My father lived here in the 1930s (which is not long long by some standards, but means my family has lived here about half the time since Seattle’s founders arrived in 1851) and worked on the B-17 production line in the early 40s.
It seems to me the public cloud is a bizarre cross between the cultures of several Seattle born companies, ultimately expressing themselves in another. Boeing is a huge engineering company operating at world-scale. Nordstrom is famously service obsessed and takes the “customer is always right” motto to an extreme.
Cloud computing brings to my mind two images: the service obsessed staff at Nordstrom transformed into online experiences, and the giant airplane hangers of Boeing transformed into enormous data-centers. The analogy is imperfect and almost certainly false: the real world is vastly more complex and origin stories are famously applied retroactively. But it seems equally unlikely that the Amazon and Microsoft employees working on the Amazon Store and Microsoft Search in the early 2000s weren’t influenced consciously or unconsciously by the cultures and every day presence of these iconic Seattle companies.
I don’t expect this blog to offer much more speculation in this vein. I intend to talk about my thoughts about working in the center of the cloud computing world, and the rapid changes I see every day in the technology and business. This is more a culture blog than a technical blog, but I will point out interesting technology I am working on as well as broader trends. We’ll see how it evolves. Thanks for reading this far!