Saturday, December 11, 2010

Amazon Web Services: An incredible set of building blocks

Werner Vogels, Amazon's CTO, announced on Thursday that Amazon Web Services' S3 file storage and management service has increased its maximum object size from 5GB to 5TB--a 1,000x increase. Vogels uses a two-hour uncompressed 1080p HD movie requiring 1.5TB of storage as an example of the kind of content that Amazon's S3 expansion can handle.

Amazon's cloud computing capabilities are almost taken for granted now, but it's useful to step back and think about what can be done. You can store and distribute vast quantities of data through AWS. Through EC2, the Elastic Compute Cloud, you can configure as large or as small a CPU processing surface as you need, including clusters. If you're doing numerically intensive processing or even graphic rendering for motion pictures and games, AWS offers GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) clusters based on Nvidia's Tesla GPUs. If you've got a large library of video, audio or HTML content, you can use Amazon's CloudFront CDN (Content Distribution Network) instead of contracting with companies such as Akamai, Limelight and Level 3.

There are many other things you can do--build iOS and Android applications that use AWS services, deploy relational databases, and even run your own DNS servers. Through third-party services built on top of AWS, you can encode and transcode videos. It's all impressive, but what's even more impressive is that you can create, configure and manage all of these services from a notebook computer in your living room. Further, you can get started with many of these services, and even launch small-scale alpha and beta tests, for free.

Even the smallest startup now has access to world-class infrastructure, and the barriers to entry based on infrastructure are almost completely gone. With AWS, Apple's iOS, Google's Android, Javascript, HTML5 and the server programming language of your choice, you've got an incredible set of building blocks, most of which are free or nominally priced.
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