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Cloud Computing Bootcamp: Amazon Raising the Bar Again with EC2 Load Balancing
Amazon are making big strides in the world of "on demand" computing or "cloud computing"

 Alan Williamson's Blog

Amazon made a special announcement today that they have officially thrown off their "beta" tag and are in full production. What does it mean? Well to the users of their web services absolutely nothing. It will be business as usual, except now, you know it comes with an SLA.

Amazon are making big strides in the world of "on demand" computing or "cloud computing". They are setting the standards to which others can only dream of reaching or matching. They have taken this opportunity to give the public at large an 'official' peak at what is coming up in the new year for EC2. Highlights include:

  • Load Balancing across EC2 instances
  • Auto Scaling of instances based on demand
  • Proper monitoring and runtime data on what is happenning with your instances
  • and finally a proper point'n'click management console

Naturally the devil will be in the detail, and how Amazon decides to price for these services. For example, how will they charge for load balancing, considering how many instances people already manage just to load balance. For us alone, we'll be able to get rid of 20% of our EC2 instances for our clients if we don't have to manage load balancing ourselves. I am sure Amazon isn't going to want to lose that revenue.

Their EBS service that lets you persist data across instances is a classic example. If you price it out, it turns out to be more expensive than actually setting up a proper master-master replication with MySQL. Amazon are not stupid, they are a business, and will make sure they do not do anything to stop the money coming in.

But that aside, Amazon are proving once again what it means to provide real services in this cloud computing space, by providing the services that users are now asking and demanding from this area.

Other players in this market should take note. I am talking about the likes of GoGrid and Flexiscale, who while they claim to be in this cloud computing space, and nothing more than glorified hosting companies. Both of these companies have yet to offer the most basic of cloud features, namely server image snap shotting. Without this, all they really offer is the ability to quickly turn on a new clean server for you. Doing it in minutes instead of weeks. What makes them any different from traditional hosting companies, say ThePlanet? At the moment very little.

Now in their defense both GoGrid and Flexiscale are planning on introducing this basic of feature in the next few months, which will make them real viable alternatives to Amazon. At the moment neither of them can respond to really truly on-demand processing.

Flexiscale will actually snapshot your running instance and let you create as many instances as you want from them. You have to manually request for this and as of yet, it is not an automated or customer driven feature

I want real alternatives to Amazon. In a free economy we need options, alternatives and the ability to shop around. I do not want to wake up one morning and discover Amazon has suddenly put their prices up or changed their terms'n'conditions that no longer suit my business. I don't want to have to "bet the farm" on them.

At the upcoming cloud boot camp in San Jose, I will be looking at how you can manage your cloud applications across different platforms, but as you will discover, when you have to go to the lowest common denominator you lose some functionality. Fortunately not as much as may you think.

With Amazon shredding their 'beta' label will maybe introduce them to those that are still nervous with what a little word can do. I look forward to seeing how others will react to the cloud bar being raised even higher. It's all good news.

All this from a humble book seller eh? who would have thunk it!

About Alan Williamson
Alan Williamson is widely recognized as an early expert on Cloud Computing, he is Co-Founder of aw2.0 Ltd, a software company specializing in deploying software solutions within Cloud networks. Alan is a Sun Java Champion and creator of OpenBlueDragon (an open source Java CFML runtime engine). With many books, articles and speaking engagements under his belt, Alan likes to talk passionately about what can be done TODAY and not get caught up in the marketing hype of TOMORROW. Follow his blog, http://alan.blog-city.com/ or e-mail him at cloud(at)alanwilliamson.org.

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