Meet Yannis, Software Development Director

Yannis is the Head of Engineering for Amazon EC2 Accelerated Computing and Nitro Hypervisor, based in Berlin, Germany. He joined AWS in September 2014.

HereAtAWS: Hi Yannis, tell us about your career journey. What brought you to your current role at AWS?

Yannis: I have been in Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) at AWS for nearly eight years, leading the organization that engineers the Nitro Hypervisor, and co-owning the Amazon EC2 Accelerated Computing business vertical for the last two years. I started in the office of Dresden, and moved in July 2021 to Berlin, with a large part of my organization.

Before joining AWS, I was head of infrastructure for different companies, and managed software development and systems teams. Further before, I have worked in software development engineer and systems engineer roles, and also contributed to a Linux distribution.

I was born in Northern Greece, and moved to Spain with my parents at an early age. I grew up, studied and started my labor experience in Spain. I moved to Germany to join AWS about eight years ago.

HereAtAWS: Can you explain in simple terms: your role, who your customers are, and how you help them?

Yannis: I am fulfilling two distinct roles. I enable the teams that engineer the Nitro Hypervisor to offer new features and technologies that support the workloads of customers in Amazon EC2 virtualized instances. I am also responsible for launching new Amazon EC2 Accelerated Computing instance families, influencing the product definition, and driving quality improvements that increase stability and performance. I define the long-term strategy of the organization (Amazon EC2 Accelerated Nitro) as well as other parts of AWS (broader Amazon EC2 and Hardware Engineering), working close together with Principal Engineers and Product Managers to build the most secure, feature-rich and quiescent hypervisor, and to provide the widest portfolio of hardware accelerators in order to help customers bring their workloads onto the cloud. Through this work, customers achieve highly performing instances, with a stability, scalability, performance and price-point much better than what they can achieve on premises.

HereAtAWS: What kind of skills do you need to succeed in your role?

Yannis: As an executive in this space, I have solid understanding of operating systems and how to improve the overall customer experience in Amazon EC2 through the virtualization stack. This requires strong planning, trade-off and decision-making skills, as well as the ability to build a highly performing organization that can make a real impact in the world.

HereAtAWS: Have you had to learn any specific new skills for your role?

Yannis: Ever since I joined, I continue learning new skills every day. I have increased my knowledge in kernels and hypervisors, as well as learned all the way of the infrastructure that supports Amazon EC2, from the scalable distributed control plane components, all the way down to the distinct hardware components and their interactions.

HereAtAWS: How does your work with customers help to make a positive impact on society?

Yannis: We are developing new virtualization technologies that allow customers to scale up their businesses by offering them highly scalable, performing and cost-optimized Amazon EC2 instances. We are also introducing new hardware accelerators that allow customers to run specialized workloads such as machine learning, graphics, audio/video transcoding and many others, allowing them to bring these workloads onto the cloud.

HereAtAWS: At work, are you involved in any activities outside of your role?

Yannis: I am involved and committed to mentoring and growing engineers and engineering managers, helping them think differently, learning new skills and growing their careers.

HereAtAWS: What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Yannis: The most exciting part is that we are innovating in the space of virtualization technologies by introducing new features, collaborating with the Linux Kernel community and building new instance families that bring workloads onto the cloud that were unthinkable in the past.

HereAtAWS: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Yannis: Growing the organization very fast, and creating the correct organizational structure to set teams up for success.

HereAtAWS: What initially interested you in working for AWS?

Yannis: Amazon EC2 is in a unique place where innovation has immediate worldwide impact to businesses, improving people’s lives, making technology more readily available and helping companies scale up quickly and try new ideas.

HereAtAWS: What were you excited to see AWS working on when you first got here?

Yannis: When I joined AWS, what got me most excited is that I would be leading the organization responsible of creating the Nitro Hypervisor, offering customers all the hardware access formerly unavailable with previous virtualization technologies in the whole industry, and the development of ground-breaking operational features that allow us to apply changes to the virtualization stack seamlessly without disrupting customer workloads.

HereAtAWS: What products or solutions have you worked on? What have been your favourites and why?

Yannis: I have driven the launch of multiple Amazon EC2 instance families, and built from the ground-up the organization that engineers the Nitro Hypervisor.

HereAtAWS: What’s one of your greatest accomplishments since joining AWS?

Yannis: Launching to production the Nitro Hypervisor has been the greatest accomplishment. I had to hire all the talent, establish a software development lifecycle, build effective processes, and scale up the organization. I started with a very small team of less than a handful engineers, and built a highly performing organization over the course of the last eight years since I joined AWS. Our technology is at the very core of the Amazon EC2 virtualized instances, powering most of our customers. I feel very excited to see our customers run their workloads every day in this amazing piece of engineering, and to continue evolving it to be more reliable, feature-rich and performant.

HereAtAWS: What advice would you give people joining AWS?

Yannis: My advice to new joiners is to understand their customers, and find innovative ways to delight them. A reminder, that most innovation is incremental and makes a huge difference to customers.

HereAtAWS: What three words would you use to describe workdays at AWS

Yannis: Speed, Innovation, teamwork.

Previous Article
Meet Igor, Technical Program Manager
Meet Igor, Technical Program Manager

Igor joined AWS in 2019 as a Technical Program Manager, and is based in Dresden, Germany.

Next Article
Meet Ceren, Start-up Solutions Architect
Meet Ceren, Start-up Solutions Architect

Ceren is a Start-up Solutions Architect based in London, UK. She joined AWS in September 2020.