It was a serendipitous moment. Hamilton is the Distinguished Engineer who oversees the increasingly complex design of the data-center empire that drives Amazon Web Services, or AWS — the nothing-less-than-revolutionary collection of online services that provide computing power to companies across the globe, including names such as Netflix, Pinterest, and Dropbox. The Ashburn facility is part of that AWS empire. When it goes down, services like NetFlix are in danger of going down, and Hamilton is the man who works to ensure this doesn’t happen.
When Hamilton and his team drove up, the data center’s backup generators had kicked in, and they were idling away. But for some reason, the power wasn’t getting to the servers inside the facility, and the machines had sapped most of the juice from the battery system that temporarily keeps them going during a blackout. “We arrived just as the servers were starting to come down,” Hamilton remembered during a recent speech at an Amazon conference in Las Vegas. “Super annoying. Super annoying.”