Amazon's Virtual Computer

Posted by: Rob Hof on August 24, 2006

What will Jeff Bezos think of next? On the heels of its data storage service announced last March, Amazon.com this morning introduced a limited test version of an online computing service. Dubbed the Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2, the service is essentially computer power on demand over the Internet. It will let software and Web developers set up virtual servers with the software and services they want to provide, without having to buy their own computers or even hire a computer hosting company. It costs about 10 cents an hour to run the custom server, plus data and bandwidth charges.

The basic idea is that now, developers can quickly set up this virtual computer and in minutes or hours, instead of days or weeks, quickly add or subtract capacity based on their needs. So like the storage service, it allows developers to experiment and quickly get running with a new service almost instantly, with no capital costs.

No, it’s not for mere mortals like you or me, or even for general corporate use. And I’m not going to geek out and explain it all here, since you can read more about it here if you want the hairy details. (Or check out Nic Cubrilovic’s post at TechCrunch.)

But suffice to say, Amazon has once again surprised those who think it’s “just a retailer.” Who would have thought that someday this online retailer might compete, even in a small way, with the likes of IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Sun Microsystems?

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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