Amazon announced general availability of its Elastic Compute Cloud and a service level agreement in the Fall of 2008, following a beta launch in 2006. Also announced was the public beta version of EC2 running Microsoft Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server. Amazon CloudFront, a self-service, pay-as-you-go web service for content delivery, debuted last November. The Elastic Block Store, for persistent storage, was introduced earlier, allowing storage volumes to be programmatically created and attached to instances. 

Users create and upload Amazon Machine Images containing applications, libraries, data and configuration settings. Pre-configured, templated images are available. 

  • Security: Web service interfaces allow you to configure firewall settings that control network access to and between groups of instances. Security systems allow you to place running instances into groups; you specify which can communicate with others, and which IP subnets on the Internet may talk to which groups.

  • Agility:
    • Elastic: Increase or decrease capacity on demand-commission one or thousands of server instances simultaneously. Thanks to API control, scaling is automatic.
    • Instance Control: Root access to each instance lets you interact with them as you would any machine. Instances can be rebooted remotely using web service APIs.
    • Flexibility: Choice of instance types, operating systems, and software; selection of configuration for memory, CPU, and instance storage. Operating systems choices include Linux, Microsoft Windows Server and OpenSolaris.

  • Cost elements: On-demand instances are defined as small, large and extra-large, with separate pricing for Linux/UNIX usage ($0.10 to $0.80 per hour) and for Windows usage ($0.125 to $1 per hour).

  • Biopharma suitability: Appropriate for small developers lacking computing resources and capacity for load spikes; instant scaling.

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