The online retailer enhances Web services support for developers, but competition from Google is imminent.
Amazon is adding new functionality to its Amazon Web services offerings, but
a prominent industry watcher says the company may face increasing competition
Amazon Web Services, an affiliate of Amazon.com, on March 27 launched its
"Elastic IP" addresses offering and the ability to launch compute
instances in multiple Availability Zones, two new features that enable Amazon EC2
(Elastic Compute Cloud) developers to build more powerful and fault-resilient
applications in the cloud, the company said.
Meanwhile, in blog posts March 29 and 30, Dave Winer, a prominent Web 2.0
player, RSS pioneer and founder of Userland Software, said he expects Google to
directly take on Amazon Web Services.
In the announcement, Amazon officials said the new capabilities enable
developers to provide greater reliability and redundancy for all of their
applications, including hosting Web sites. These two features were among the
top requests of developers using Amazon EC2, said Peter DeSantis, general
manager of Amazon EC2. Amazon EC2 is an infrastructure service that provides
resizable compute capacity in the cloud and allows developers to obtain and
configure capacity with minimal friction, the company said.
DeSantis said developers using Amazon EC2 can acquire "Elastic IP"
addresses, which are static IP addresses designed for dynamic cloud computing.
Unlike traditional static IP addresses, Elastic IP addresses can be dynamically
remapped to point to any compute instance in a developer's Amazon EC2 account,
Amazon officials said. Elastic IP addresses make it easy for companies to host
Web sites, Web services and other online applications on Amazon EC2, enabling a
new range of customers to take advantage of Amazon's on-demand cloud-computing
offering, the company said.
Also, Amazon EC2 gives developers the ability to programmatically place
instances in multiple Availability Zones. Previously, only very large companies
had the scale to be able to distribute an application across multiple
locations, the company said.
Now Amazon EC2 has made this as easy as changing a parameter in an API
call, the company said. In addition, each Availability Zone runs on its own
physically distinct, independent infrastructure, and is engineered to be highly
reliable. Availability Zones have independent networking, power and cooling,
and separation from risks such as flood and fire, helping an application to run
uninterrupted across a wide variety of failure scenarios.
"Elastic IP addresses will make it easier for companies to take
advantage of Web hosting on Amazon EC2," DeSantis said.
Amazon officials said uses of Amazon EC2 range from activities such as Web
hosting, graphics rendering and Web crawling to genomics analysis, large
parallelized batch processing and financial modeling. More than 330,000
developers have registered to use Amazon Web Services.
Amazon Web Services provides Amazon's developer customers with access to
in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon's own back-end technology
platform, which developers can use to enable business. Examples of the services
offered by Amazon Web Services are Amazon EC2, Amazon S3(Simple Storage Service),
Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon SQS (Simple Queue Service), Amazon FPS (Flexible Payments
Service) and Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Developers looking to sign up to use Amazon EC2 can go to the Amazon Web Services Web site.
his blog on March 30, Winer identified Google as a hypothetical competitor
to Amazon Web Services, which he had written about
"The first question that comes up is, How can they afford to give it
away?" Winer said of Google. "Google's search engine cost nothing to
use and had no ads for the first few years, and look at how well that turned
out. Flipped around, I don't see why Amazon charges me to use AWS [Amazon Web
However, he said, Google is also doing this. "How could they not be? What's
hard to believe is how much of a running start Microsoft, Yahoo and Google have
been willing to let Amazon have."
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.