I’ve been occasionally following Amazon’s forays into web services, and spent the last couple hours reading up on their fairly new Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service, which provides an infrastructure for anyone to inexpensively setup and run one or many server instances within the Amazon data center. EC2 is darn cool, not only for things like scientific computation sets but also for more standard tasks like web serving and such. Combined with Amazon’s existing S3 storage service for reliable storage, the possibilities are pretty amazing for building scalable web apps. There are some obviously missing components, however, such as effective load balancing and some sort of database environment not to mention the problem that when a virtual server goes away so goes all of its data. I’m sure Amazon is well aware of these problems, and I suspect that they’re working on them. Depending on the latency of S3, I suspect an enterprising hacker could create a filesystem driver for it that, used correctly, could solve a lot of the storage issues. If/when Amazon reveals a database web service, they’ll have quite a platform on their hands. I’m really impressed by how Amazon is creatively opening up their infrastructure in ways that improve their bottom line while also dramatically leveling the playing field for small players in the web space.