S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Service), headquartered in Seattle, Wash., has tabulated more than 800 million total data objects saved in its rent-a-NAS-type storage server farm. Developers can store unlimited amounts of data on Amazon servers for 15 cents per gigabyte, paid monthly.
S3 was designed to support both Amazons own internal applications and the external users of the Amazon Web Services platform, but any kind of software storage is allowed.
Users can access the storage space using standard SOAP and REST interfaces, and networking is handled by HTTP and BitTorrent protocols, the spokesperson said.
The data streams are encrypted with customer-specific keys, and access rights are granular enough to provide private or public storage object by object, and user by user.
In addition to the storage fee, users pay 20 cents to transfer each gigabyte of data somewhere else, but there are no setup costs.
S3 can be used as an online backup drive or backend storage for a homebrew data warehouse with distributed, reliable access from anywhere and on demand, the spokesperson said.
The recent World Cup soccer championship sparked an upsurge in use of S3, the spokesperson said.
Early World Cup victories by Argentina triggered a flood of Web site traffic for the countrys second-largest online newspaper, La Nacion.
Uncertain whether its banner ads would survive the traffic spike, Lanacion.com searched for a better way to store and serve ads that was cheap enough not to cut into advertising profits, simple enough to get up and running immediately, and massively scalable in case the team kept winning. Thats when Lanacion.com decided to use S3.
Within hours, the site started storing ads in Amazon S3 to ease the load on its servers. After seeing how well Amazon S3 performed and how much the paper saved by using the service, Lanacion.com moved all of its ads to Amazon S3.
Amazon neighbor Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash., wanted to expand its MSDN Direct Student Download program.
"We needed a storage and delivery solution that made it simple, fast, and dependable for students in hundreds of countries around the world to download our software at any time," said Joe Wilson, director of Academic Initiatives in the Developer Marketing division at Microsoft.
Microsoft wanted to scale the program up without any upfront or increased ongoing expenses, which is why it chose Amazon S3.
Microsoft expanded the program while managing to cut storage costs by more than 90 percent since switching to Amazon S3.
Amazon certainly isnt alone in offering to become the back end for Web services.
eBay has turned its Web platform into a free service. Google has APIs available for every service it offers, from GMail and Google Maps to search and advertising, all at no charge.
Yahoo has a similar range of tools available for free, and Microsofts MSN Developer Center offers yet another choice of Web platforms.
For more information on Amazons S3, go here.