Amazon releases point-and-click console for EC2

The AJAX-based console is the first of many planned rollouts for Amazon Web Services offerings

Amazon has released a new Web-based management console for the company's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) platform, which provides scalable application and service delivery, according to an official blog post Thursday.

Many EC2 customers have been using other management tools, such as the Elasticfox extension for the Firefox browser. The new console will likely be "compelling" for such users, the post states.

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The console's AJAX-powered point-and-click interface means "no more page refreshes every time something updates; and a timer refreshes management console components, such as the status of running instances, every few seconds," it adds.

The console can be accessed with an Amazon user name and password. "No more certificates or public/secret keys to manage! If you're like me, I never seem to have my own computer at hand when I need to check the status of the Amazon EC2 farm, or for that matter when I need to launch a new instance," the post states.

More Amazon Web Services will get consoles in the future, according to the post, but no timetables were provided.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the console is supported in EC2's United States region right now, but support for other regions will follow.

EC2 users reacted quickly to Amazon's news, with some expressing relief.

"Finally! I'm amazed it took Amazon so long to do this. Managing EC2 instances from a custom Firefox extension was pretty bizarre," wrote Web developer Simon Willison in a blog post.

Veteran Java developer and author Alan Williamson praised Amazon's work in another post.

"Amazon's engineers have delivered a very rich, functional and darn right stunning looking console. It begs you to want to use it," Williamson wrote. It is also "infinitely more accessible" than Elasticfox, "which ties you to a single browser/single machine," he said.

But Williamson also called for improvements.

"I hope they also tie in the accountancy to the same console; I would like to see the cost of my services as I incur them," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Amazon's plans could put a crimp in the hopes of companies like Ylastic, which makes a console for managing a range of AWS offerings from a browser or mobile device.

"Even though I have some level of attachment and commitment to Ylastic, practicality says that I should be using Amazon's console - especially since it's free," wrote Web developer Brit Gardner.

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