Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Amazon invites bidding wars in the EC2 cloud

Amazon may have made a name for itself as an online retailer and pioneer in e-book sales, but the company has also attracted a following for the cloud computing services it offers. The company has to maintain a large server footprint to handle things like the holiday gift rush, and at least some of that undoubtedly goes idle during slower times, so the company uses its excess capacity to offer users access to virtual hardware and storage that's cheap and can be scaled rapidly. Now, the company is adding an additional degree of flexibility that should increase the appeal on the "cheap" side of that equation: spot pricing for compute capacity.

The idea behind the EC2 service is pretty simple: users can create a customized operating system image—the company supports Windows, Solaris, and various Linux distributions—and then pay to run virtually on hardware at one of three Amazon data centers. Users can pay more to get more memory, more cores, and the like. If demand increases suddenly, it's possible to simply throw more instances at the problem, which enables users to rapidly scale without maintaining idle hardware during the times it's not needed.


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