Amazon Web Services

Tonight I went to a presentation by Jeff Barr, Senior Web Services Evangelist for Amazon, with my friend Patrick. I was interested in learning more about the storage, computing, and queuing services I have been reading and hearing a lot about lately and to check out DCRUG, who hosted the event. (Thanks for the dinner.)

I’ll leave the explanation of the services to Amazon, as they do a fine job doing so. However, I thought I would highlight some of Jeff’s points that may not be inherently apparent or published but are quite interesting and helpful to understand:

Groups often optimistically project and expect their web sites, applications, and services to grow in demand as time goes on. However, if they build a robust infrastructure up front, they typically waste precious time and money on an underutilized system. If they use a shared environment, they imagine a magical transformation from a shared to a dedicated host without considering how they will move their system seamlessly before allowing their creation to cut-off its own revenue stream as it grinds to a halt. Amazon Web Services are built with both robustness and low costs in mind.

Amazon is clearly building a framework, and its licensing agreement makes it clear that they want people building businesses around their services. They’re providing the tools and want to see people build with them.

In addition to a base agreement, each web service has its own sublicense. I like this because it cuts down on legalize and makes this more digestible.

One of the primary goals of the team is to build simple and self-serving services for developers to utilize. They don’t want to throw money at marketing, sales, or support when they don’t have to. This savings in overhead costs equates to cheaper fees for the customers who use their services. They have invested quite a bit of time making their APIs insanely simple and building a positive, self-serving community of developers through the use of blogs, forums, and the like.

SQS is like FIFO but not exactly (it isn’t a trivial problem to solve at such a massive scale).

Amazon doesn’t have as many points of presence as Akamai, so they do not see themselves in the content delivery market. They are still fast, however.

They are hoping to provide a way for vendors to dynamically charge for use of their software inside EC2. One of the audience members pointed out that vendors are currently clueless as to how to appropriately charge in an elastic computing environment.

Overall, I was quite pleased. Jeff did an excellent job evangelizing the services and answered a load of really good questions during and after his presentation. He really knew the services, so it wasn’t just a bunch of high-level garbage.

 I’ve been converted.

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