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Amazons cloud computing review

Amazon is a pioneer and market leader in the area of Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Amazon suite of products in cloud computing space is called Amazon web services.

Amazon S3

In March 2006, Amazon launched S3 (Simple Storage Service). S3 provides data storage using a simple web interface. Amazon launched S3 to improve its server utilization and to initiate another revenue stream. S3 has been extremely successful due to its low pricing and high stability. Typical uses of S3 are web hosting, image hosting, and as a back-up system. Some popular sites that use Amazons S3 are twitter, and Slideshare.

There are no minimum usage or start-up charges and the billing model is "pay as you go". Amazon charges for using US S3 are divided into three parts - storage charges, data transfer charges and charges for number of requests. These charges are summed together to compute the total billing. Storage charges are computed as $0.150 per GB per month. Data transfer charges are computed as 0.1 per GB for data transfer in and $0.17 per GB for data transfer out. There are also additional charges for $0.01 per 1,000 requests. There are some discounts for very high usage. The charges for using storage buckets for European cloud are slightly higher.

S3FOX provides a Firefox extension that allows a Windows explorer like user interface to upload/download files. CloudBerry also offers a Freeware with Windows Explorer style interface to manage Amazon S3 accounts, files, and buckets. Free hosting reviews are available to assist with making an informed web hosting choice.

Amazon SimpleDB

SimpleDB is non-relational database hosted by Amazon. It was launched in December 2007. The database integrates well with other Amazon AWS tools. Amazon SimpleDB provides web service for running queries on structured data in real time. Relation databases like Oracle and db2 are expensive. SimpleDB provides an alternative database platform. SimpleDB uses a basic string-based query language. The syntax is straightforward but different from SQL. SimpleDB does not support some of the standard SQL features like joins, full text search, or sorting query results. No upfront investment is required. The database is scalable and is accessible through web services.

It is possible to get started with SimpleDB for free. Amazon SimpleDB users pay no charges on the first 25 Machine Hours, 1 GB of Data Transfer, and 1 GB of Storage that is consumed every month. The billing for additional demand is pay-per use. The billing charges are divided into two parts – Machine utilization and data transfer. First 25 Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hours consumed per month are free, after that charges are $0.140 per Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hour. The data transfer charges $0.100 per GB. First 1 GB of data transferred per month is free. The charges for Europe are slightly higher.

Database Journal has a good overview on SimpleDB. Amazon also has Detailed documentation on SimpleDB

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)

In layman's term Amazon EC2 provides computing servers on rent, a kind of dedicated server hosting. EC2 is the Amazon's core offering in the Infrastructure-as-a-Service space. EC2 is available with a web services interface. The service is resizable, in the sense that you can increase/decrease computing capacity depending upon your needs.

Amazon offers three types of virtual servers:

  1. Small Instance (Default) 1.7 GB of memory and 160 GB of instance storage.
  2. Large Instance 7.5 GB of memory and 850 GB of instance storage
  3. Extra Large Instance 15 GB of memory and 1690 GB of instance storage.
There are more variants if you have high-CPU or high-memory requirements.

Operating Systems supported include Windows Server 2003, Linux and OpenSolaris. Also supported are databases like Oracle 11g, MySQL and DB2, Application servers like Weblogic, WebSphere.

The basic/default virtual server instance costs $0.085 per hour with Linux operating system. Charges are higher for more powerful servers and for running Windows. In addition there are charges for data transfer. Transfer in is $0.10 per GB and Transfer out is $0.17 per GB.

As usual Amazon has detailed documentation on EC2. There is a nice introductory article on EC2 by Paul Stamatiou.

Amazon also provides a Firefox extension called Elasticfox that provides a free web interface to manage EC2 servers.

Amazon does not publish revenue from AWS division. Analysts predict these to be above $200 million.