Building and Operating a Pretty Big Storage System (My Adventures in Amazon S3)

Andy Warfield, Amazon


Five years ago I decided to leave my faculty position at UBC and join Amazon. A lot of that time has been spent working as an engineer on the S3 team. In this talk, I'm going to reflect on some of my experiences working on a cloud storage service, and in particular talk about what it's been like to build storage at the scale of S3. Now, we all know that S3 is pretty big and so it's probably not all that surprising to hear that I expected "scale" to be something that I'd learn a fair bit about when I decided to join. I was, however, a little surprised at some of the ways that scale would really factor into my role, and how it would show up in operating the business. So in the talk, we'll learn about building storage on large quantities of hard drives, and we'll also learn about some of the cultural, organizational, and personal dimensions of building, evolving, and running a really big storage system.

FAST '23 Open Access Sponsored by

@inproceedings {285805,
author = {Andy Warfield},
title = {Building and Operating a Pretty Big Storage System (My Adventures in Amazon S3)},
booktitle = {21st USENIX Conference on File and Storage Technologies (FAST 23)},
year = {2023},
address = {Santa Clara, CA},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = feb,

Presentation Video