By Chris Cardinal
On June 1st, 2008
GigaOM caught up with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos at the D6 conference this week. A lot of people on Wall Street have been struggling to make the somewhat obvious connection between Amazon as a retailer and Amazon as a web service provider. The background to the concept is really pretty self-evident: Amazon needed to develop amazing tools for their own internal scalability and data management needs and in doing so, determined they could scale those tools, make them available to developers for their own applications and commoditize the marketplace. So they did, as we describe after the jump.
The result is cost-effective, pay-as-you-go hosting and instant scalability with cloud computing (EC2) and cloud storage (S3), amongst other very intriguing services. The benefit to this is that the base capital outlay required to supply a startup with hardware is almost nothing. Whereas before, a single server could be had on the cheap, the issue lay in instant scalability: sites like iLike struggled immensely when their Facebook application first launched and started to spread like wildfire.
So much so, in fact, that the founder put out a desperate email pleading with anyone who could help deliver servers over the startup weekend. Now, you’ll note in the email that they had already offloaded everything they could to S3/EC2. Amazon’s shifted their approach with these services to allow for things like persistent data storage amongst EC2 instances and a low-level database service called SimpleDB (and further, MySQL support on EC2 now), so much so that I’d think more and more of the application could be hosted on Amazon Web Services now. (I’d need to ask Ali Partovi about that, though.)
With Amazon Web Services, you have the ability to scale up nearly instantly, to an effectively infinite level of capacity and then to scale down, as load warrants. And you only pay for what you use, down to the CPU-hour. It’s an impressive scheme that makes the cost of building an application with hardware-based scalability already considered incredibly affordable—essentially free ’til you need it. This beats trying to estimate potential growth and getting your estimates devastatingly wrong, either by purchasing too many machines up front or by getting slammed with traffic and finding yourself unable to deliver when it’s most critical.
Watch the interview to see Jeff’s take on things. It’s really rather straightforward and we’re going to see more and more on this front from Amazon (and Google, as they enter the space).
Posted in: Tech News