Category: Amazon EC2*

What’s the Difference Between Amazon FPS and Amazon DevPay?

Weve heard from a few folks that its not clear what the difference is between some of the Amazon Web Service offerings. This is a very short post to try to clarify two services, plus a product feature. Like most short descriptions, I am short-changing the rich feature set of each offering. Visit for more information on each.

Using Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS), developers can accept payments on websites. It has several innovative features, including support for micropayments.

Amazon DevPay instruments two Amazon Web Services to enable a new sort of Software as a Service. Amazon DevPay supports applications built on Amazon S3 or Amazon EC2 by allowing you to resell applications built on top of one of these services. You determine the retail price, which is a mark-up above Amazons base price. Customers pay for your application by paying Amazon. We deduct the base price plus a small commission; then deposit the rest into your Amazon account.

Amazon EC2 Public AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) are not a service as such. Rather these virtual server representations are a feature of Amazon EC2, designed with Amazon DevPay in mind. They are usually configured with your value-add software that you want to monetize using a monthly fee and/or markup above the base fee that Amazon charges. One of the best-known examples of a public AMI is Red Hat RHEL, which is available for a monthly fee plus an hourly fee. Its fully supported by Red Hat, which makes the virtual version of their software viable for many companies who are Red Hat customers.

— Mike

EC2 Firefox Extension is now Open Source

Ec2_firefox The very cool EC2 Firefox Extension is now an open source project on SourceForge!

The extension makes it really easy to launch and manage Amazon EC2 instances. After creating your keypairs and security groups, you can simply right-click on any of the listed AMIs (Amazon Machine Images) and choose to launch one or more instances.

All of your running instances are listed at the bottom where they can be identified, controlled, monitored, shut down, and so forth. You can easily capture the public DNS name of any running instance, and then paste it into your favorite SSH client (e.g. PuTTY, my personal favorite) to create a secure connection to your new EC2 instance.


Ec2_firefox_menu There’s also a very cool menu entry labeled “Launch more of these” for instant scalability (assuming, of course that you’ve built your application in a scalable fashion, a subject of another post).

As-is, the extension is pretty cool but as always seems to be the case with something cool, everyone who uses it has ideas for even more cool features. Some people seem to want a slightly less technical view and others want to go in the opposite direction. A lot of people would like to have more control over the list of displayed AMIs.

We’ve released the extension in source form and are now eagerly anticipating the results. The extension is written in JavaScript and you’ll need to know a little bit about CSS and DHTML to be productive.

Let us know what you come up with!

— Jeff;

Amazon EC2 Gets More Muscle

MuscleThe Amazon EC2 team just added Large and Extra Large instance types to EC2. The former “one size fits all” instance type is now known as a Small instance.

Large instances are 4 times larger in each dimension (CPU power, RAM, and disk storage) than the Small instances and cost $0.40 per hour. Extra Large instances are 8 times larger in each dimension and cost $0.80 per hour.

Both of the new instance types support 64-bit computing. While the Large Instance type offers 7.5 GB RAM, the Extra Large Instance Type offers 15 GB RAM (compared to the Small instance type and its 1.7 GB RAM). To help developer compare the new instance types, we are measuring the CPU capacity using a new term called an EC2 Compute Unit. The EC2 home page has more information about this.

When I first heard the news, I fell off my seat after reading the specs, especially ’64-bit’ and ’15 GB RAM’. This is addressing one of the most common requests that we have heard from our developers.

With these new types of instances, developers will now be able run ravenous applications like large databases and/or compute-intensive tasks like simulations. Most importantly, they will be able to mix-and-match based on their infrastructure needs. Some Ideas that I can think of are:

  • Small-scale user : 1 Small instance running the entire month (Website Hosting)
  • Medium-scale user:  4 Small instances, 2 Large instances (Social Networking App)
  • Compute intensive on-demand parallel user: 400 instances for 72 hours (Hadoop Cluster)
  • High-perf user: 20 Extra Large instance for 14 days (Biotech Drug Synthesis or Render Farms)
  • Database or file share hosting user:  8 Large instances running the entire month (Memcached-based Applications)
  • Mixed large-scale user: 16 small instances, 4 large instances, 2 extra large instances, running entire month (Large Web-Scale Application)

Imagine the new possibilities!

If you have more ideas for how you would use these new instances, I would love to know.

I have also updated our AWS Simple Monthly Calculator with the new Instance Types where you can get estimate of your monthly bill based on your usage.

We are working hard to improve our products based on the feedback that you provide us. Keep the excellent feedback coming in!

— Jinesh

\HelloWorld\ Facebook Application AMI

Jinesh_facebook I was quite curious to see how facebook applications can be built which use Amazon S3 and Amazon EC2 so I spent some time creating a “HelloWorld” facebook application that lists your Amazon S3 objects given the bucket name (basically integrate Amazon S3 libraries with Facebook libraries). I bundled up my code/configuration and created a Public AMI so that facebook developers can simply re-use my configuration and host their app in Amazon EC2.

AMI ID: ami-74f3161d
AMI Manifest: aws-facebook-app/image.manifest.xml

This Amazon Machine Image is pre-configured and ready-to-go for hosting your Facebook Application. There are some simple steps listed in our Resource Center Public AMIs page that will help you get started.

So now you have solid scalable infrastructure to back you up, innovative facebook platform to play with and all you need is the Killer Idea!

If you think this is helpful, let me know through comments. We could extend this AMI and build an Auto-Scaling module around the app so that we can simply “Auto-Scale Facebook Applications” out of the box and never worry about servers when you get famous overnight.



Start filling up your Shopping Cart with AMIs

Amazon EC2 allowed developers to create and bundle their software into Amazon Machine Images – Pre-packaged Pre-configured Filesystem. Developers were then able to share their AMIs with friends and family (no kidding) and even with the general public.

Now with our brand new “Paid AMI support“, they can set their own price and earn perpetual commission. This adds a whole new business model to Amazon EC2.

For example, A Ruby on Rails Developer can now configure the entire stack (Nginx, Apache, Mongrel, MySQL and all the open source goodies that “simply works”), set its price, say $0.15 cents/hour and $0.12 /GB-up and $0.21 /GB-down and fire away. While Amazon EC2 gets the same old traditional $0.10/hour, $0.10/GB-up and $0.18/GB-down, the developer (AMI-creator) gets the difference (in this case, $0.05/hour, $0.02/GB-up, $0.03/GB-down) credited back to his account from whomever who instantiates that image.

The AMI-creator can set any price for the AMI depending upon the software that is loaded or as compensation for the work and time he has put onto making it and AMI-consumer simply purchases the AMI just like he purchases more tangible items from

Now lets think a little harder to see what can we do with it. Imagine all the possibilities. You are more than welcome to brainstorm (in the comment section of this post). A few that come to my mind are:

  • Monetizing ‘Software As A Service’ – John Doe has a web app (say CRM software, Blogging Software) that consumers, in the past, used to install, configure, optimize. Now it comes “factory-installed”. John can deploy and create a Paid AMI, run some numbers and set the price and consumers can simply pay for the “service” over and above the hosting charges.
  • Monetizing your Configuration Setup – John Doe has provided some migration, automation and upgrade utilities over and above already configured Apache-Tomcat.
  • Monetizing your Optimization Setup – John Doe has developed a smart hack that bumps up performance for Rails/Tomcat/WebSphere in a particular configuration setting or configured and opmitized instances that work as a MySQL cluster.

More ideas are always welcome!


Amazon EC2 Helps Justin.TV Take on E3

Yesterday morning we received an email from the folks behind Justin.TV. They were preparing for a big splash at the E3 show and wanted to make sure that we were in a position to handle the increased load. We assured them that we were.

Justin and his posse visited E3 and did a live broadcast (available in archive form here). Everything worked really well.

After the event, they shared some impressive statistics with us. At peak they served up 3,500 simultaneous video streams representing over 1 gigabit per second of network bandwidth. Within minutes of noticing the heavy load, they were able to increase their streaming capacity by over 400%, and they paid only for the server capacity that they needed. Once the load subsided they killed off the extra capacity.

That’s how it works when you are Web-Scale!

— Jeff;

Renkoo’s Booze Mail: EC2, and the Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster

Booze_mail My friends Adam Rifkin and Joyce Park are the co-founders of Renkoo. Renkoo simplifies the process of getting together with a bunch of friends for an event or simply for a tasty beverage or two.

Last month Adam told me that they were planning to launch a Facebook application and that they wanted to host it on Amazon EC2 in order to accommodate what they hoped would be a rapidly growing user base. I got him signed up for the beta and their application (Booze Mail) launched just a few days ago. Using this application you can send a virtual tasty beverage — anything from a simple glass of water to a throat-scorching Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster — to anyone on your Facebook friends list.

As Adam explains, “With the pressure of rejection removed from the situation, a sender can make offers to deepen friendships without trepidation.” This is where things get even more interesting. The recipient of the virtual drink can redeem it (by printing out an “IOU” style coupon) or by using Renkoo’s scheduling facility to organize an actual, face-to-face meeting.

People are sending around virtual drinks at an ever-increasing rate and they’ve been using EC2 to good advantage. Looking at the Appaholic traffic graph I see that the user base has grown from less than 100 at the end of June to over 13,500 as of this morning. I don’t know how many EC2 instances they are using, but I do know (because they told me) that they aren’t too nervous about growing. As Adam says:

“Thank goodness for EC2. Otherwise this would be making me very very nervous because we have no hardware, rackspace, or bandwidth that can handle where I think we’re going.”

Instead, they are able to focus on the features and functionality of their application.

Congratulations to Adam and to Joyce on the launch!

— Jeff;

PS – Feel free to add me to your friends list if we’ve met….

Amazon EC2 For Scientific Processing

Bioinformatics_for_dummies Mike Cariaso was kind enough to set up the Meetup in Bethesda for my upcoming trip to Washington, DC. Mike has done some pretty cool work with with Amazon EC2, setting up the mpiBLAST tool to run on EC2.

MPI, short for Message Passing Interface, is a standard for coordinating processing on supercomputer grids. MPIPCH2 is a popular implementation of MPI.

BLAST is the primary bioinformatics tool used to query genome sequences against an established database, or to match one sequence against another. The primary BLAST tool is run as an online service by the National Institute of Health.

Running BLAST over MPI lets BLAST run on a processing grid; this variant is called mpiBLAST.

Mike’s work builds on that of Peter Skomorch, who did the work needed to get MPIPCH2 running on Amazon EC2. Peter documented his work in a very informative set of blog posts:

That last post doesn’t actually reference EC2, but it is entertaining nonetheless. Part 2 ends with a parallel fractal calculation running on 5 EC2 instances!

By the way, I’m very interested in hearing about more academic and scientific uses of EC2. Please feel free to post a comment.

— Jeff;