Why Amazon’s 2-Pizza Team Makes AWS Cost Savings So Hard

Two pizzas, one team. We are talking about the 2-pizza teams at Amazon – small enough to be fed by two large pizzas (that’s right, Joey, you will have to share). These teams became the prototype of how Amazon continued to innovate despite its growing global operations. 2-pizza teams were agile and developed solutions that deployed fast in their cloud environment.

However, all things must change, and 2-pizza teams were no exception. What happened with that change, and more importantly, how does it affect your AWS expenses?

When 2-pizza teams became history

According to Inc, Amazon realized that the 2-pizza teams were only good for specific tasks. These tasks did not require another group to check on them—for example, product development. This approach proved phenomenal for innovation, but product development was still a bumpy ride as dependencies do exist across teams.

Imagine Chandler from finance and Ross from engineering fighting over a new feature to be added. While one wants to curb costs, another wants to design something new. And you know where that back and forth leads to — delayed product development.

Amazon also found that the teams’ success depended on a skilled leader whose sole task was to get things done. Whether the team was big or small, it rocked if a leader could get sh*t done!

That is why 2-pizza teams evolved into single-threaded leader (STL) teams. Like the single-threaded process in a computer program, STL teams focused on one and only one task. The leaders in STLs threw away the “someone will take charge” mentality. They were responsible for wrangling the dependencies, pushing forward, and getting things done.

Why STL teams rock at Amazon

At Amazon, STL teams are more about empowerment than size. Each employee takes ownership and holds autonomy of the work done on the product, design, technology, etc. This shared goals approach enhances accountability, and people feel valued.

Let’s understand with an example from the playground. You walk into a playground, and there’s a group of kids playing with a toy. The next thing you know, three to four feet tall humans have gathered around, and on the ground is the toy, broken into pieces. None of the children takes responsibility for the broken toy. “Who broke it?” asks an adult. The usual reply is, “Not me.”

Similarly, while grown-ups may not have a toy to break, they indeed have work projects that go wrong more often than they’d like. As children, the blame passes around, and no one takes responsibility.

Now Amazon cannot afford a broken toy. It has over a million customers, including 80% of Fortune 500 companies. To avoid any failures, Amazon went ahead with STL teams. These teams worked faster and better with common goals, releasing new features frequently.

According to Cloudpegboard, AWS released 1853 announcements in the year 2019. That comes to about five statements each day. We understand if you need a minute to let that sink in.

How STL teams affect your AWS cloud costs

Let’s get this clear – AWS footprint is not a single service. It’s a massive web of 200 completely unrelated services that require technical depth to be understood. Most organizations have nothing of this scale to deal with.

While the STL teams develop AWS solutions faster than ever before, you can have difficulty keeping up with their pace. It becomes a full-time job to take note of the updates and how they affect your AWS cost optimization strategies. You have to work on the optimizations without changing the AWS configurations. And with the complex guidance that AWS provides, good luck to you! AWS cannot take into account your organization’s cloud infrastructure, business rules, and needs. Their guidance, though spot on, often falls short of helping you optimize costs.

None of this is impossible, but you need time and engineering expertise. You need enough motivation to go back and optimize your AWS costs, which sometimes could be just a few dollars.


Even if you think you can keep up with AWS, find opportunities to optimize, and get those savings, this is only scratching the surface of why saving money is so hard.

If you are ready to level up your AWS cost optimization, head over to our eBook “Enjoy Wasting Money With AWS?” You do not have to spread yourself thin while saving on AWS costs. Let CloudFix help you save more now!

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