Amazon Web Services were first released to the public in 2006. The project has grown from the depths of Amazon and first sparked interest in 2003, when the company has released an article on their achievements in managing IT infrastucture.
The biggest innovation coming from AWS is provisioning of physical resources via software means. Traditionally one had to plan hardware procurement, data centre infrastructure construction and on-going maintenance. All of this required an enormous monetary and human resources' effort to get right. With Web Services it has finally became possible to exclude capital expenses completely and get operational expenses in line with the real use of resources.
Today AWS enjoys more than one million customers around the globe, including Amazon itself, Netflix, Freelancer.com, reddit.com and many others.