AWS News Blog

AWS Links – Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Ok folks, it is Wednesday, and that means it is time for another in my continued series of posts about what’s happening in the Amazon Web Services world! With 490,000 developers in our program, there’s always plenty to talk about.

I write these posts using source material drawn from emailed hints, clues that I find on Twitter, hallway conversations with colleagues, technical news sources such as Hacker News and Reddit’s Programming section, and items that I glean from the hundreds of blogs that I scan each week.

Today I’ve got information about some new AWS case studies, a help-wanted ad for a system administrator position in New York, law firm automation, news from RightScale, an update on the SimpleDB Explorer, another iPhone interface to EC2, a developer contest from the makers of the Peek, a beta test announcement from CohesiveFT, and a success story from Others Online.

New Case Studies

Our marketing department has been working overtime to put together some new case studies. Their newest studies describe how Wowza Media Systems (“The #1 Choice For Media Streaming”) and Xignite (“Financial Market Data On-Demand”) use AWS.

The Wowza Media Systems case study recounts Wowza’s decision to use EC2 to allow startups and small businesses to offer scalable Flash media streaming, live and on-demand video, and other services. They explain that hundreds of customers have signed up for the service via Amazon DevPay and that their revenue has increased by 400% in just 6 months. Their solution can also access media stored in Amazon S3.

Moving right along, the Xignite case study talks about how they used EC2 and S3 to construct a highly scalable platform which serves up financial market data to over 400 corporate clients. Faced with a traffic curve which looked like a Bell Curve, they built a system which incorporates application servers, load balancers, and caches to handle peak loads without the need for standby capacity.

We have a whole bunch of other great AWS case studies if you want to keep on reading.

Help Wanted – AWS System Administrator in New York

Tammy from the Filife personal finance community asked me to post a help wanted ad for her and I am happy to do so. Per their job posting they are looking for a versatile system administrator to maintain their EC2-powered virtual server farm. This is a full-time position based in New York.

Although Tammy that their implementation is “a bit too generic to be interesting,” I don’t believe that to be the case. They use multiple sizes of EC2 instances to run the web front-ends, MySQL, and HA Proxy, with a bunch of EBS volumes for storage. Code deployment is managed via Puppet and Capistrano, allowing them to set up new instances very quickly.

LawRD – AWS-Powered Data Tracking for Law Firms

Jorge emailed me from Portugal to make sure that I knew about his company’s product, Lawrd. Powered by EC2, this product collects, tracks, and produces reports on all of the data generated by a lawyer or a law firm.

After paying a very modest per-user monthly fee of 14 Euros per month, users can track the facts (what, when, where, and how) for each case, client, and employee. Timesheets, contact lists, invoices, and reports are all readily available. All data is encrypted and of course there’s no local software to install.

Jorge also told me that they use Eric Hammond’s Unbuntu AMIs and EBS, and that they can update their code with a simple SVN checkout.

Qualified users can get started today with a free trial.

RightScale Rocks On

There’s a whole lot happening at RightScale (“Cloud Computing. Delivered”). As I write this, the counter on their site indicates that they have launched 324,051 servers!

On March 3rd we’ll host an Executive Seminar on Cloud Computing in New York with speakers from Amazon Web Services, RightScale, MySQL, and Starcut. Unfortunately, registration has already been closed due to a very high response. You can still join the waiting list by emailing

Earlier this month they announced support for EC2 in Europe, with full support for replication of AMIs and their server templates across the Atlantic. And, just yesterday, they updated their RightScale Ruby Gems.

New SimpleDB Explorer

Saurabh informed that there’s a new release of SimpleDB Explorer on the loose! The new release supports exporting of a domain’s contents to an XML file, sorting, searching, the new SimpleDB Select syntax, and also displays the cost of each query. There’s also a new command-line tool. Read more in his blog post.

ElasticPod – EC2 Cluster Management on the iPhone

Eugene wrote to tell me that his ElasticPod EC2 interface is now available in the iPhone App Store.

You can launch new EC2 instances, manage your keys, and terminate individual instances or all instances in a reservation group. You check the status of your instances on a color-coded display, and you can even bounce back and forth between multiple AWS accounts. ElasticPod works in vertical and horizontal view, and looks pretty cool (note to boss: Please buy me an iPhone so that I can test out cool apps like this).

Peek Developer Contest

Dan from Peek wrote to tell me that they are running a developer contest. They are looking for some cool applications which combine the Peek APIs and the location-based APIs provided by Xtify.

A Peek (since you were just about to ask), is a mobile device dedicated to email. Designed for everyone except hardcore techies (per their site), it is thin, stylish (available in three colors: gray, aqua, and cherry), and very easy to use. You can buy one online or at your local Target. I have to say that it is is really cool to see AWS-powered devices at the Target down the street from my house. Technology has now become far more commonplace and accessible than it was just a few years ago.

Last year, Dan described Peek’s use of AWS in a blog post. At the time they were running over 30 EC2 instances and storing about 400 GB worth of data on some EBS volumes.

CohesiveFT Looking for VPN-Cubed Beta Testers

Patrick from CohesiveFT dropped me a note to tell me that they are now looking for some beta testers for the EC2 version of their VPN-Cubed (“Customer controlled security for the cloud”) product; read about the features and requirements here. Beta testers are promised a dramatic discount on the finished product.

You will be able to use this new product to set up a secure “overlay network” which can span EC2’s US and EU regions and even other cloud providers. You will have full control of addressing, topology, protocols, and encryption.

Others Online Uses AWS to handle 100,000,000 User Profiles

Old friend and one-time colleague Mike Dierken (we worked together last century during the dot-com boom) wrote to tell me how his company, Others Online, uses AWS to track over 100 million user profiles. This Seattle company helps publishers to learn what their audiences care about. They do this using natural language processing, evolutionary algorithms, data mining, and some AI. This all takes a lot of compute power.

Mike told me that they use a pool of application servers, scaling up and down throughout the day in response to actual load. Data is stored on a set of horizontally partitioned MySQL databases and they spin up more as their user base grows. They also use EC2 for their heavy-duty data processing, starting up a bunch of instances, doing the work, and then shutting them down once the work is done.

You can learn more about Others Online by watching the fun video on their home page.

And that will have to do it for today; I’ve still got lots of other stuff on today’s TODO list.

— Jeff;


Modified 10/28/2020 – In an effort to ensure a great experience, expired links in this post have been updated or removed from the original post.
Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.