amazonA lot of people seem to be asking this question. Most students (and faculty) tend to think of Amazon as the online equivalent of Walmart (though Walmart has it’s own online presence) – as just a seller of retail items. Amazon however is far more.
Amazon not only sells retail items (and space) it also provides internet services or hosting for thousands of companies, institutions and other entities. This hosting essentially allows and provides easy, fast and often redundant access to content on a global scale through something called a content delivery network. Essentially through an extreme set of complex algorithms, security and other layers the paper just submitted in your course ‘lives’ on an Amazon web server through their S3 platform (Simple Storage Service). It was most evident to me in my role with the university when I noticed images in courses ‘disappearing’.
Think of it this way. Lets say you’re going to a friends house for dinner – they’re hosting you. They ask you to come over to see them. They even tell you that their niece, Nozama is going to be bringing desert in the form of those great scout cookies you enjoy so much. You arrive on time to the dinner and everything seems to be going just fine until it’s time for desert. Sadly, your friend tells you, Nozama couldn’t bring the cookies just yet, because her parents car had trouble on the way over. Sadly (presently) the cookies you love so much are missing in action.
In some ways you could look at this as the host’s problem is that the host of the cookies is having a problem. For more on understanding the nuts and bolts of hosts, check out this explainer from CommonCraft.