30 August 2006

Amazon Goes Virtual

I was deeply unimpressed when Amazon announced its Simple Storage Service (S3), since I am not a developer, but the news that it is now rolling out a sister beta service, called the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), made me sit up and take notice. Not so much for this:

Just as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables storage in the cloud, Amazon EC2 enables "compute" in the cloud. Amazon EC2's simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon's proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.

Which is all very well, but what really interested me was something I suspected might be the case:

Q: What operating system environments are supported?

Amazon EC2 currently supports Linux-based systems environments. Amazon EC2 currently uses a virtualization technology which only works with Linux environments. We are looking for ways to expand it to other platforms in future releases.

Think about it: Amazon, not a small or unknown company, is creating an on-demand, virtualised computing facility, and it has GNU/Linux at its heart, just as predicted.

Maybe it won't take off, but if it does - or if another GNU/Linux-based company like Google, say, follows, suit - we will be witnessing yet another serious nail in the coffin of the traditional operating system as the fundamental, underlying platform for computing. And we all know what that means, don't we? (Via GigaOm.)

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