Amazon’s EC2: Bringing cloud computing down to Earth

amazon web servicesCloud computing is becoming the next hot item in a changing tide that is replacing the well entrenched product model, with a new, on the fly, pay as you go, service model.

The new Virtual servers, are to the classic server, what the SAAS models, where software is being sold as a service, are to the traditional boxed software.

amazon cloud computingLeading the latest virtual server charge, is Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). The basic idea is that a developer can set up a virtual server (the actual servers are hosted by Amazon) in minutes, and have none of the maintenance headaches of buying and installing server hardware and software, which can take weeks to get up and running.

The pay as you go model is cheap and flexible . If your computing demands increase, there is no need to buy any more hardware. The “resizable cloud” provides a scalable computing environment.

The whole idea of Utility computing or Grid computing, is not entirely new. It was pioneered by IBM, and was offered to consumers by Sun in 2000 as part of the Sun grid service.

Amazon’s Elastic Computer Cloud (EC2), released in a limited Beta, is the latest offering from Amazon Web Services, AWS. It follows Amazon’s earlier cloud storage service Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).

Amazon’s on-demand web service platform is creating a host of opportunities for start-ups. A company called RightScale based in Santa Barbara, CA, is providing a platform on top of AWS virtual servers, that enables companies to create scalable web applications within the new paradigm created by Amazon’s EC2, S3 and SQS. RightScale is currently in beta.

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