Review: Amazon, the mother of all clouds

Amazon Web Services leads with a luxurious array of options, resources, and services, but trails in performance and price

Ah, Amazon -- did Jeff Bezos choose that name to symbolize the largest bookstore in the world or did he realize that he would one day create an enterprise cloud service that was as large and complex as the river basin? After spending some time with his enterprise infrastructure service, I think he saw this coming.

Selling servers by the hour was a bold idea when the Amazon cloud business launched a few years ago, but it seems quaint compared to all the options for sale today. There are currently 21 products available on Amazon Web Services, and only one of them is the classic EC2 machine, an abbreviation of the full name, the Elastic Compute Cloud. The original S3 (Simple Storage Service) now has cousins like the Simple Workflow Service and SimpleDB, a nonrelational data store. Then there are odder innovations like Amazon Glacier, a very cheap storage solution that takes hours to retrieve the data. Yes, hours. Not milliseconds, not seconds, not minutes -- but hours.

[ From Amazon to Windows Azure, see how the elite 8 public clouds compare in InfoWorld Test Center's review. | Stay on top of the state of the cloud with InfoWorld's "Cloud Computing Deep Dive" special report and Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

It's impossible to summarize it all in a paragraph or even an article. Amazon Web Services would require a book, but that tome would be out of date by the time it was printed because the service changes quickly. The best news is that Amazon is constantly looking at costs and generally lowering prices as it finds a way to deliver the product for less. Some prices have gone up occasionally over the years, an effort to make the prices reflect reality.

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