Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud services arm of Amazon, has opened its new offices in Auckland.

AWS now takes residence on two floors of the PwC Tower at Commercial Bay, expanding on the offices established in Wellington earlier in the year. The business now has more than 100 employees in NZ, 50 of which were hired in the past 12 months.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff joined AWS employees, its customers, and media at the official opening on Tuesday morning.

“For our city that has the aspiration of being a world-class city, having enterprises like AWS in our city, based here, is really important,” Goff said.

Cloud services are often discussed in the abstract but there were companies present to show the tech at work.

A first public demonstration of WE Accounting’s bespoke AI customer service assistant Maia showed the possibilities of scalable products running in the cloud round the clock. Built in partnership with services company Consegna and digital human platform Uneeq, Maia can take and triage queries from WE’s customers.

Founders Wyndi Tagi and Eli Tagi said it is hoped Maia will soon be fluent in te reo Māori and Samoan, the languages most spoken by the company’s customers. 

“In Samoa, we’re trying to build a training platform that will enable our digital human to be that person, instead of watching videos or PowerPoints, you have someone to actually explain it, so this is the first iterative of what we’re doing with Maia, but it’s going to be a gamechanger for accounting and professional services,” said Eli Tagi. 

Nick Walton, AWS NZ managing director, said the company is making significant investments to help NZ businesses unlock the benefits of the cloud, and name-checked customers Vodafone, Ministry of Health, TVNZ, Sharesies, Air NZ, BNZ, and Xero.

“Using our cloud services, government agencies and businesses of all sizes and across all industries are able to build on AWS, allowing them to innovate quickly, expand into new markets and increase operational efficiencies.”

AWS opened an ‘edge location’ in Auckland last September, marking its first physical infrastructure set up in the country. Edge locations improve the latency of cloud services and overall speed and performance improvements.

Walton said TVNZ and Spark Sport use the edge installation to improve their streaming services.

He also said organisations in Australia and NZ who migrate their IT systems to AWS cloud see on average 23% reduction in IT costs compared to running traditional on-premises systems, and that the company has “tens of thousands” of customers in NZ.