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Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Buried Lead in Amazon's Elastic MapReduce Announcement


Amazon just announced that you can now run Hadoop based MapReduce operations on massive data collections stored in S3, computed on their EC2 cloud service:

Amazon Elastic MapReduce

This is almost magically beautiful, the possibilities for small science teams to be able to do super-computer level computation (that would traditionally require big teams and big budgets) with a small team and almost no budget... just, wow.

What I also find interesting is the buried lead in this announcement though. That is that this is the first time that Amazon is directly trying to compete against Google's App Engine. The distinction being that App Engine is "platform as service" while AWS is "infrastructure as service". In human words, Google lets you build applications and let worrying about how the infrastructure will scale up your application to meet huge usage patterns up to Google's engineers.

In contrast, Amazon's AWS lets you build your own scalable infrastructure easily with their services, but you need to develop all of your own load balancing and auto-scaling features (or use someone like Scalr's or Rightscale's wrapper around AWS, if you are willing to pay the considerable price)

With this new service launch you just upload your data to their cloud storage (S3), write your data crunching application to their API, then upload it to their service and hit go. This is exactly the workflow of App Engine.

Glad to see the competition is fierce and fast in cloud services right now, this is a great time to be a developer.

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