Amazon: Building the cloud

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.

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