Amazon's presentation skills were put to the test during their Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference. The online retailer has been busy improving on its cloud offering, and their many presentations focused on the enhancements Amazon had developed. When presenting on the powerful data services Amazon Web Services provides, the company unknowingly put its competitors front and center.
Amazon Web Services VP of Infrastructure Jerry Hunter was displaying his presentation to an audience of several thousand, and I can imagine more than one saw Hunter's mistake while he was on stage. The VP presented an image that, instead of revealing Amazon's data centers, presented rival Google's.
The news of Amazon's unfortunate blunder, like all things, soon found its way onto social media. The event was posted by one of Google's high-ranking leaders of its Cloud Platform: Urs H¶zle. The search giant employee wrote up a post on Google+ jokingly asking that Amazon at least add Google's logo to properly identify the images. Amazon's marketing arm soon replied to H¶zle's post. Jim Sherhart took the fall for the company, saying he was responsible for developing the presentation Hunter used during re:Invent. However, Sherhart did explain the likely reason why Google's pictures were used, writing, "Because we have a lot of IP in our data centers, we don't typically show images of them in presentations."
Amazon differs from Google in that it doesn't release pictures of its data centers. Left with little options for an image to represent Amazon's offering, Sherhart turned to an online search engine and found what he believed to be a generic data center. He later switched the picture out for a more appropriate one after realizing his mistake.
The original picture in the presentation was a demonstration of Google's "Jupiter" network. The photo had been previously used with Google's press release when announcing Jupiter, and its image rights don't actually require for the user to credit the source. In that sense, Amazon wasn't implicated in any serious legal issues, though, judging from H¶zle's post, Google might not have taken the mistake that far. Instead, the entire situation seems to have been taken very lightheartedly, illustrating the type of relationship the tech industry may form, even in the cut-throat cloud computing market.