AS BOSSES go, Linus Torvalds and Andy Jassy couldn’t be more different. Mr Torvalds works, often in his bathrobe, out of his home in Portland, Oregon. He leads an army of volunteer developers whose software can be had for nothing. The office of Mr Jassy, who usually sports business casual, is in a tower in Seattle. His employees operate dozens of huge data centres around the world and work to create new online services that his firm can charge for.

Yet their organisations share an anniversary and an intertwined history. On August 25th 1991 Mr Torvalds asked other developers to comment on a computer operating system he had written, which became known as Linux. It has since become the world’s most-used piece of software of this type. On the same day in 2006 Mr Jassy’s team made available a beta version of “Elastic Compute Cloud” (EC2), the central offering of Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud-computing arm of Amazon, an e-commerce giant. Over the past 12 months the division racked up sales of $11 billion.   

These two organisations have been central to the rise of cloud computing, the provision of all kinds of...Continue reading