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Thu, 24 Aug 2006
Amazon has released a new service into limited Beta: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). Essentially this lets you boot up and shut down as many server instances as you want, and pay for them hour by hour, with no long-term contract.
You want a Linux machine as a web server? It's up and running in minutes, and starts billing you 10 cents per hour until it's shut down. The site is popular and you need more capacity? Add more machines. It's less than $75 per month for a virtual dedicated machine, plus bandwidth. If you want to separate the web server, application server and database server, just ask for more machines and they are there within minutes.
These are actually virtual machines, but the initial disk image is what you want it to be. If a machine is shut down, its disk gets wiped. If you want permanent storage, you can use the existing Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service).
This option is great for startups. You never know if a new service will catch on, and scaling up can be painful from an operational and financial point of view. This new Amazon service is an innovative modern version of the old mainframe service bureau.