Amazon and Cloud Computing

Having used Amazon Web Services (AWS) for a class project and more recently compared cloud-based virtual private servers for ease of provisioning, administration, and use as a web development sandbox in both Windows Server and Linux operating systems, I receive regular updates from AWS about new service offerings. It strikes me that every couple weeks Amazon introduces a new feature or enhances an existing service. I did a quick search of my Gmail account to see if my impression was true.

I found that I had received 50 emails from AWS over the last year, which makes them weekly on average. The AWS newsletter came out mid-month, and a couple customer satisfaction surveys sprinkled in there, but about 30 emails over the last year announced a new service (Elastic this, Elastic that) or an enhancement to an existing service (like today's SMS [short message service aka text message] addition to the SNS [simple notification service] offering). That's a lot of growth in features! But AWS repeatedly receives negative reviews on points including security, ease of provisioning, and performance. Visiting the AWS website also shows the wide range of service offerings to be as daunting as a McDonald's menu! I definitely prefer Rackspace's In 'N Out Burger style no-nonsense service, though they are occasionally wanting in features that AWS does provide.

It's interesting that to make up for the "dedicated" features that AWS provides but Rackspace lacks, you simply add that feature to your CloudServer. The elementary infrastructure components of computing and storage are both provided at Rackspace: CloudServers and CloudFiles (Amazon provides Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) or Elastic Block Storage (EBS)). Amazon provides a few cloud database components in addition, which may make peoples' lives easier in some ways and more difficult in others. MediaTemple provides service-oriented components - you can order up a cloud web server or database server or application server (i.e. Java, Python, Ruby apps), and these are all provided as scalable "grids" of each service, which seems to abstract one level further, making it easier to get the services that you need while sacrificing some of the customizability that AWS and the Rackspace Cloud offer. Amazon then piles on a whole host of cloud technologies to facilitate networking a cluster of virtual servers, caching content on their CDN, sending various kinds of notifications to clients, monitoring your cloud network, and way, way more - just drop down the top navigation on the website to see what I mean.

The point is, with all that Amazon does currently, including the online store and the whole Kindle world, they have required an extensive computing foundation just to maintain their business, and they're putting all of that innovation to work, making it available to the public and charging for it, too. I suppose it's a useful service that they provide to the computing community, and their products are well-used, but personally, Amazon's setup is far too complex for me to seriously consider choosing them over a simpler virtual private (web) server provider any time in the near future. Maybe for a heavier business application I might consider it...

Registered Linux User #370740 (

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