Amazon Opens Up EC2

Amazon today opened up its EC2 (Elastic Cloud Computing) web service in an "unlimited beta". What does that mean? It means if you have an AWS account, you can now sign up for EC2 without a long wait to become part of the beta group. I haven't been blogging much lately as I joined a startup in Indianapolis about a month ago. Between the move from Seattle and the settling in I've been pretty busy. Now that things are starting to slow down a bit, one of the things I'm investigating is leveraging EC2/S3 for my company. If you don't know those acronyms, S3 (Simple Storage Service) is essentially storage on demand and EC2 is compute on demand. The pricing uses a utility model, e.g. you pay for what you use and that's all, and the pricing is competitive. I did a cost analysis of hosting with EC2 vs a standard leased colo situation and EC2 was significantly less expensive, like, 75% less expensive. I still don't like the bandwidth pricing but I hope that will change over time as more users get on EC2. I've played with EC2 for the past few months but hadn't found the perfect app for it. One of the challenges I'm currently facing is that at my new company, users upload lots of content. That content can vary in size (up to 10MB), is immutable, and is displayed/downloaded potentially many times. I don't want to have to worry about storage and backups of this content. Once the amount of data starts to move into the TB range, it becomes costly to effectively backup and store that much content. Enter EC2/S3. You can imagine several EC2 instances that handle storage and retrieval of content from S3. A simple web service on top of this system allows for users to upload content essentially right to S3, and anyone can view content. Since no ACL is needed for the content, and I don't have to worry about SSL, this is for me a perfect application. I am also currently aware of another EC2 customer using the platform for logging web requests. When users load a web page, they download a web bug from EC2. Since web logging and analytics can be potentially a costly and compute intensive application, this is another great way to utilize EC2. We (developers, technologists, hackers) are only beginning to see the possibilities of having a platform like EC2/S3 at our fingertips. On another note, I am again hiring developers in Indianapolis. If you are, or know, bright hackers in the area or that would be willing to move to the area, please contact me.