Amazon unveils grid offering

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Amazon unveils grid offering

Ecommerce store builds out webservices initiative.

Amazon has unveiled a limited beta of a new Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service.

The service provides developers of Web services with access to computing power thought the internet, an offering that is commonly described as a grid. Users pay only for the resources that they actually use, saving them the investments of building a new datacentre.

"This frees you from many of the complexities of capacity planning, transforms what are commonly large fixed costs into much smaller variable costs, and removes the need to over-buy "safety net" capacity to handle periodic traffic spikes," the company touted on its website.

The service is part of Amazon Web Service (AWS), which aims to provide online developers with the resources that they need to build online applications. AWS also includes the S3 online storage service and Amazon Mechanical Turk, which offers a system to have individuals perform simple tasks that can't be easily automated.

The Amazon server costs US$0.10 per hour and US$0.20 per Gb of internet traffic. Clients pay US$0.15 per Gb per month for storage through the S3 storage service.

Clients will be given access to a 1.7Ghz Xeon powered server with 1.75Gb RAM, a 160Gb hard disk and up to 250Mb/s of bandwidth.

Users can create a standard image with all their applications, libraries and data and apply those settings to a new machine within minutes.

Amazon's latest offering resembles Sun Microsystems' retail Grid, which rents out computing power at a rate of US$1 per CPU hour.

Amazon positions its service as a way to instantly commission new servers, while Sun is focussing on data crunching applications such as video rendering and voice processing.

At the official launch last March, Sun for instance touted an application that transforms the morning newspaper into a podcast that commuters can listen to on their portable music players.
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