Amazon Stretches Cloud With Elastic Storage

After weeks of speculation, Amazon's Elastic Block Storage makes its debut

August 22, 2008

3 Min Read
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Amazons Web Services division has finally added "persistent storage" to its EC2 compute service in an effort to beef up its cloud storage strategy.

After weeks of speculation, the vendor took the wraps off its Elastic Block Storage (EBS) offering today, which it claims will boost its ability to offer both storage and compute power as Web services.

The vendor’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), which was launched two years ago, offers users compute power as a Web service, priced from 10 cents per month for 1.7 Gbytes of memory. Previously, however, users could only allocate storage to their EC2 applications while they were actually running. As soon as the instance was shut down, so was the storage.

“What we have allowed now is that you can provision volumes independent of the instance,” says Peter De Santis, general manager for Amazon’s EC2, explaining that the storage volumes can be anything from 1 Gbyte to 1Tbyte each. “[Now], when the instance shuts down, the data on that volume will persist - additionally, we can provision and attach multiple volumes to a single instance.”

EBS is priced from 10 cents per allocated Gbyte per month and 10 cents per million I/O requests made to the volume. Users can also shift these storage instances into Amazon’s S3 storage service, according to the vendor.“Lots of people want to run all sorts of relational databases that run on file systems and block devices,” says De Santis, explaining that this could prove invaluable across numerous industries, from financial services to pharmaceuticals. “Now you can run that database in a more reliable manner inside the cloud.”

Amazon is just one of a number of vendors throwing their weight behind cloud storage at the moment. Earlier this week, for example, IBM employed cloud computing standards as part of a $300 million expansion of its global backup centers, and startup Cleversafe fleshed out its plans for a "storage internet."

Despite offering one of the more comprehensive storage-based Web services on the market today, Amazon has not been without its snafus, such as the outage that hit the S3 service last month. This followed an outage earlier this year, which initially stirred up concerns about service reliability, and prompted yet more user unease.

"Any amount of downtime is unacceptable – we take operational excellence more seriously than any other task," says Adam Selipsky, Amazon’s vice president of product management. "That being said, we’re proud of our uptime record over the last two and a half years – we have had incredibly few SLA claims."

The exec did not reveal how many SLA claims Amazon has received, but confirmed that the SLA is set at 99.9 percent uptime.Prior to its general availability today, EBS has been in a limited rollout to a number of beta customers, including email specialist ShareThis and Wired.com, which had been using EC2 to power its "embeddable widgets" and product reviews. In a statement released this morning, Paul Fisher, Wired.com’s manager of technology explained that his firm is developing a next-generation "semantic" Web platform using both EC2 and EBS.

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  • Amazon Web Services LLC

  • Cleversafe Inc.

  • IBM Corp.

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