Web 2.0: Demand Strains Amazon Web Services

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Demand for Amazon.com Inc.'s Web services programs that provide compute and storage capacity to users is booming, requiring that the company scale back the beta program for the former and add data centers and disk space for its storage service, said Jeff Bezos, the company's founder and CEO.

Bezos, speaking at the O'Reilly Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco Monday, said that Amazon.com's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) -- a beta service launched in November to allow companies to rapidly provision large amounts of computer capacity and pay for it as needed -- is "completely capacity-constrained" right now.

"We hate being capacity-constrained," Bezos said. "It's not the right way to run a business. We are trying to get ourselves in a position with EC2 where we will be demand-constrained instead of capacity-constrained."

As for Amazon's Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), its year-old service that provides companies with as-needed storage capacity over the Internet, the company is "adding new data center capacity and disk space as fast as we can," Bezos said.

The S3 service has grown from storing 800 million objects last July to storing more than 5 billion objects today, he added. On its busiest day, the service received 920 million requests to store or retrieve objects, Bezos said.

Bezos noted that Blue Origin, a company he funded to build vehicles that would cut the cost of travel to outer space, used S3 in January to handle an unexpected huge spike in demand for access to its Web page. When Blue Origin added video to its site, popular sites like Slashdot.org linked to it, and traffic exploded from almost nothing to more than 3.5 million visitors in a day, he said.

By using S3, "this was something that Blue Origin was able to do on the spur of the moment," he said. He noted that S3 storage capacity to cover the surge in demand cost Blue Origin about US$304 for the month of January, mostly for the surge in demand.

Bezos said that the compute and storage infrastructure available through Amazon's Web services can do the "heavy lifting" for users building a large-scale Web application. If they use the services, the users won't have to focus on efforts like managing bandwidth or buying servers, which ultimately don't differentiate a business, he said.

"If you are going to build any kind of Web-scale application, 70 percent of your energy goes into things on the back end," he said. "If this heavy lifting isn't done at a very high-quality level, it can torpedo your successful project."

This story, "Web 2.0: Demand Strains Amazon Web Services" was originally published by Computerworld.

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