6 Design Laws Amazon’s CTO Thinks You Should Know (And Why We Agree)

J.P. Doolin


At this month’s AWS re:Invent conference, Amazon CTO, Werner Vogels remarked, “The cloud has removed previous constraints. Everything that used to be hardware is now software.” This allows for a new way to build and interconnect our systems. It is now more important than ever for CIOs and cloud architects to plan and architect these systems using sound design principles.

According to Vogels, there are six design laws cloud architects should know, all of which we agree with:


  1. The Lucas Critique ̶ “It is naïve to try to predict the effects of a change entirely on the basis of relationships observed in historical data.”

What this means: It’s impossible to predict what the IT landscape will look like in five years. There are only a few constants in IT – for example, the time it takes data to travel due to the speed of light. There is also a constant need for businesses to connect users, devices and locations to their applications and data in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

We agree: Our customers are investing in an integrated interconnection platform that gives them the proximity, flexibility and agility to prepare for the unpredictable IT landscape of the future.


  1. Gall’s Law ̶ “To build a complex system, you must first start with a simple working system, then add to it.”

What this means: You can’t build a complex system overnight. You need to first build a basic working system, test, tweak, add new features, then repeat.

We agree: Traditional enterprises aren’t moving all their workloads to AWS in one day; a phased/ hybrid approach is needed. Customers need to connect their traditional data centers to the public cloud and run workloads in both environments. AWS understood this when they named Equinix/Nimbo as the data center and professional services provider in their hybrid cloud bundles announcement.


  1. Law of Demeter ̶ “Each unit should have only limited knowledge about other units-only units ‘closely’ related to the current unit. Each unit should only talk to its friends; don’t talk to strangers.”

What this means: Your design needs to be modular and the interconnection between systems as simple as possible so components can be swapped out or added.

We agree: AWS Direct Connect can be accessed via the Equinix Cloud Exchange using a secure, point-to-point, physical fiber connection between a customer’s private cloud and their AWS resources.


  1. Occam’s Razor ̶ “The one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

What this means: Reduce the ways you can be wrong. Remove uncertainties and replace them with certainty.

We agree: The Internet introduces an unpredictable data path and latency between source and destination points. AWS Direct Connect via Equinix eliminates this uncertainty by enabling access to AWS services through direct, secure, high-speed and low-latency connectivity, providing proximity to users, applications, data and clouds.


  1. Reed’s Law ̶ “The utility of large networks scales exponentially with the size of the network.”

What this means: The larger the network, the more opportunities there are for sub-groups and ecosystems to form.

We agree: Our diverse customer base has allowed us to build multiple business ecosystems worldwide for companies to join – including Internet, financial, advertising, mobile and cloud exchanges – all accessible at Equinix.


  1. The Gestalt Principle ̶ “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

What this means: AWS is building an ecosystem of technology and consulting partners to provide complete solutions for customers.

We agree: Creating an open and neutral platform has attracted the largest network, content and cloud providers to Equinix, which allows new enterprises to immediately reap the benefits of pre-existing ecosystems, while also increasing the overall value of the Equinix data center and interconnection platform.


To learn more about designing and deploying AWS-based infrastructures, download the AWS Well-Architected Framework whitepaper.