Amazon: Building the cloud

by Mathew on December 14, 2007 · 8 comments

I confess that I don’t really know anything much about databases — apart from the fact that if my WordPress mySQL database goes wonky, all hell breaks loose — but I think the announcement of Amazon’s Simple DB is a pretty major deal, if only because it seems to be the third leg of a stool that also includes Amazon’s S3 distributed storage service and its EC2 “elastic computing” server platform.

Unless you’re a total geek you probably don’t need to know what either of those do, but what’s interesting is that they are the building blocks of a “cloud computing” model of the kind that Sun Microsystems co-founder and former CEO Scott McNealy used to talk about with such zeal back in the day (and Eric Schmidt too, for that matter). It gives Web companies all the tools they need to outsource pretty much their entire infrastructure.

In other words, while everyone was talking about it, Amazon has gone ahead and done it — although Google could just as easily do some of the same things if it wanted to. In many ways, Amazon seems to have the back end, with the actual infrastructure of servers and computing power and databases, while Google has focused on the applications such as Web mail and calendars and Google Docs and so on. Interesting times.

  • http://fitrans.blogspot.com rycoleman

    Very interesting indeed Matt – what Amazon has put together has really made a lot of new web-based companies possible. Before, when you wanted to do an ASP or SaaS model company you needed a hefty bankroll to buy the servers you needed.

    Not it literally costs you pennies. At AmazonCamp a few weeks ago the AideRSS guys gave a perfect example. On the day they launched they had 10 “servers” running. Through the course of the day they had to turn on 20, then 30. By the end of the 24 hour they had 100 instances of EC2 running to handle the load. Each server costs roughly $2.40 to run for a 24 hour period. Before Cloud Computing they a) never could have afforded it and b) even if they could have afforded it never could have scaled that fast.With real boxes you're looking at days or weeks to bring 100 servers online…

    FWIW – This is more like the fifth leg. Amazon also has SQS (Message Queues – geeky but important) and FPS (Flexible Payment System) in their repertoire…

    - Ryan

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    That's fascinating, Ryan — it will be interesting to see what other
    kinds of businesses or applications come on the scene over the next
    little while, powered by an infrastructure that's almost entirely
    virtual.

    And thanks for mentioning the FPS, I'd forgotten about that one (and
    didn't even know about the other one)

  • Pingback: To Rule the Clouds Takes Software: Why Amazon SimpleDB is a Huge Next Step « SmoothSpan Blog

  • BobWarfield

    “Amazon has gone ahead and done it.”

    I too much prefer this approach to all the hype that has surrounded Google and some others on their platforms. This is but one shot fired, but it is an important one. There's a lot more to come:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2007/12/15/to-r

  • http://fitrans.blogspot.com rycoleman

    Very interesting indeed Matt – what Amazon has put together has really made a lot of new web-based companies possible. Before, when you wanted to do an ASP or SaaS model company you needed a hefty bankroll to buy the servers you needed.

    Not it literally costs you pennies. At AmazonCamp a few weeks ago the AideRSS guys gave a perfect example. On the day they launched they had 10 “servers” running. Through the course of the day they had to turn on 20, then 30. By the end of the 24 hour they had 100 instances of EC2 running to handle the load. Each server costs roughly $2.40 to run for a 24 hour period. Before Cloud Computing they a) never could have afforded it and b) even if they could have afforded it never could have scaled that fast.With real boxes you're looking at days or weeks to bring 100 servers online…

    FWIW – This is more like the fifth leg. Amazon also has SQS (Message Queues – geeky but important) and FPS (Flexible Payment System) in their repertoire…

    - Ryan

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    That's fascinating, Ryan — it will be interesting to see what other
    kinds of businesses or applications come on the scene over the next
    little while, powered by an infrastructure that's almost entirely
    virtual.

    And thanks for mentioning the FPS, I'd forgotten about that one (and
    didn't even know about the other one)

  • BobWarfield

    “Amazon has gone ahead and done it.”

    I too much prefer this approach to all the hype that has surrounded Google and some others on their platforms. This is but one shot fired, but it is an important one. There's a lot more to come:

    http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2007/12/15/to-r

  • Pingback: Mozilla Weave: Who owns the cloud? - - mathewingram.com/work

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