Amazon Web Services: Still getting better

aws logo I often think back to 2006 when Dickson and I were in the midst of the VenturePrize business plan competition. It was around that time that Amazon.com launched their first web service, the Simple Storage Service (S3). It had a huge impact on our business, and we’ve been extremely happy customers ever since.

Over the last couple of years, Amazon has introduced a number of additional web services, the most well-known of which might be the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). You can think of it like an on-demand computer in the cloud. I had a quick look at it when it launched, but being a Windows shop, we really didn’t have time to invest the extra effort necessary to get it running. Now, Amazon has announced that EC2 will support Windows:

Starting later this Fall, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) will offer the ability to run Microsoft Windows Server or Microsoft SQL Server. Our goal is to support any and all of the programming models, operating systems and database servers that you need for building applications on our cloud computing platform. The ability to run a Windows environment within Amazon EC2 has been one of our most requested features, and we are excited to be able to provide this capability. We are currently operating a private beta of Amazon EC2 running Windows Server and SQL Server.

Very cool news for Windows developers. It should put some extra pressure on Microsoft too – though apparently they are getting ready to launch something. Watch for more news on that at PDC.

Another interesting new service that Amazon is introducing is a Content Delivery Service:

This new service will provide you a high performance method of distributing content to end users, giving your customers low latency and high data transfer rates when they access your objects. The initial release will help developers and businesses who need to deliver popular, publicly readable content over HTTP connections.

It will run atop S3, so anything that currently exists there can easily be added to the new content delivery network. This is very cool, and will finally bring world-class CDN infrastructure to small businesses. I wish they had introduced this two years ago!

Those are both very important improvements to AWS. Amazon is raising the bar, again. When will Microsoft, Google, and others answer?

Also – I just noticed recently that Amazon has redesigned the AWS website. It looks fantastic, in my opinion, and is much easier to navigate. Keep the positive improvements coming!

Amazon EC2

Post ImageI’ve been meaning to post about this for some time now, but haven’t had a chance. I was really excited last Thursday when I read about Amazon’s new web service called “Elastic Compute Cloud” or EC2 for short. After seeing what they did with S3, I was particularly interested in the how EC2 would fit in. And boy does it ever fit in:

Create an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) containing your applications, libraries, data and associated configuration settings. Or use our pre-configured, templated images to get up and running immediately. Upload the AMI into Amazon S3. Amazon EC2 provides tools that make storing the AMI simple. Amazon S3 provides a safe, reliable and fast repository to store your images.

Nicely integrated with S3. The other great feature? Bandwidth between EC2 and S3 is FREE. I cannot even imagine how much cost savings that could equate to. With EC2, you pay only for instance hours used. Each machine instance is equivalent to “a 1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth”. Pretty darn sweet.

I’m already thinking of ways we could integrate this into Podcast Spot (we’re already using and loving S3). I’ve only taken a cursory glance at the forums, API and other documentation, but it seems to me there are two missing features that are extremely desirable: persistent storage and support for Windows (currently it only supports Linux). The AWS guys seem to be pretty on top of things though, so if enough people request them, I’m sure the features will get implemented.

I can’t wait to see what Amazon releases next!

Read: TechCrunch