Amazon S3

time lapse photo
Photo courtesy of pbo31

Amazon has launched S3. This is a pay-as-you go internet-based storage system for digital files. This changes everything and I can't get my head around it. I spend so much time trying to figure out how to back up my data, where to host it, how to get more storage and where to put web pages, and now I have to factor this into the equation. Everything is moving so fast. Wheez!

Here are the key points I can get from it. First, while this is unlimited pay-as-you-go storage it isn't hosting. Meaning, Amazon is selling storage, not CPU cycles. In fact, they aren't selling any CPU cycles to go along with it that aren't required for storage. I can't run any arbitrary programs from the Amazon servers. So that means that while I can store files there, it isn't easy to run a blog from S3. Conceptually, blogging software can be rewritten to leverage storage at S3, but you still need a place that is accessible via the web that will burn cycles for you. Eventually lots of programs will be probably add the capability to read and write from services like S3. But for now it is really just a place to dump data that you know you want saved somewhere. Things like backups work well with S3. So do big hosted files, like movies and genome databases. But lots of little files that need programmatic support to manage, like a blog, do not work well with S3.

S3 supports Bittorrents - this will eventually be a big deal because it means that P2P is going mainstream. This is critical for scalability and to eliminate spikes in bandwidth usage. That's cool.

Also cool is the fact that you can encrypt data and put it on Amazon's servers. It's like a storage rental unit. You rent it, you keep the key, no one knows what you are doing there.

It also suggests an alternate Internet. If Amazon's service is valuable and everyone ends up using it, then the Internet will effectively all live on S3's servers. I think this is what Google is trying to do. Amazon seems to have beat them to the punch here. If there are just a few big players who are hosting the Internet because it is cheaper, more reliable and faster to do that then the landscape of the Internet will be changing soon.

These are mind-blowing times.

I wonder if anyone has any plans to sell CPU cycles the way that Amazon is selling storage? That would be something like "grid-computing" I guess. It seems that companies have tried that in the past and failed. Didn't IBM try to pull that off under the name of "adaptive architecture" or something.

(Musings) Permanent Link made 5:15 PM | TrackBacks (0)

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