Mar 27

Jesse Robbins

Jesse Robbins

Amazon improves EC2 (by embracing failure)

Amazon just announced two big improvements to EC2:

  • Multiple Locations
    Amazon EC2 now provides the ability to place instances in multiple locations. Amazon EC2 locations are composed of regions and Availability Zones. Regions are geographically dispersed and will be in separate geographic areas or countries. Currently, Amazon EC2 exposes only a single region. Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered to be insulated from failures in other Availability Zones and provide inexpensive, low latency network connectivity to other Availability Zones in the same region. Regions consist of one or more Availability Zones. By launching instances in separate Availability Zones, you can protect your applications from failure of a single location.

  • Elastic IP Addresses
    Elastic IP addresses are static IP addresses designed for dynamic cloud computing. An Elastic IP address is associated with your account not a particular instance, and you control that address until you choose to explicitly release it. Unlike traditional static IP addresses, however, Elastic IP addresses allow you to mask instance or Availability Zone failures by programmatically remapping your public IP addresses to any instance in your account. Rather than waiting on a data technician to reconfigure or replace your host, or waiting for DNS to propagate to all of your customers, Amazon EC2 enables you to engineer around problems with your instance or software by quickly remapping your Elastic IP address to a replacement instance.

Datacenters and geographic regions are Single Points of Failure (SPOF) too.  Failure Happens, and it's far better (and cheaper) to build services that are resilient to failure than to try to prevent them from happening.  This is a big step in the right direction.

Update: RightScale posted an excellent overview of how this works.

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Comments: 5

  hoberion [03.27.08 08:14 AM]

"Elastic IP addresses are static IP addresses designed for dynamic cloud computing."

finally, this kept us from deploying stuff on ec2!

  Cody [03.27.08 11:17 AM]

Good for Amazon! It seems they are going in the right direction, the more failure prevention the less risk of failure.

  Thorsten [03.27.08 11:54 AM]

Jesse, thanks for the pointer to our write-up. We're extremely excited about the new features! There's still the perception out there that cloud computing is somehow inferior to traditional ways of doing things, it just happens to be cheaper. The new features are a clear indication the cloud noticeably accelerating and surpassing traditional hosting solutions not just in price but even more so in capabilities. Fun times to be on the EC2 platform!

In case you haven't noticed, the availability zones have names such as "us-east-1a". Mhhh, I wonder how soon we'll get zones that replace the "east" by something else, or the "us". That'll ratchet the excitement up yet another notch!

  Sam Hiser [03.27.08 11:57 AM]

Thank you, Jesse, for this news.

Suave move by the Amazonians.

If I am running apps from which I make money, I am not going to think twice about redundancy in a different Zone to manage my risk of losing uptime when Lex Luther knocks Cali into the Pacific.

That means what for Amazon EC2/S3 revenues?

Good for them!

  Thorsten - CTO RightScale [04.14.08 12:19 AM]

Jesse, thanks for pointing to our blog entry: very appreciated. Did you see the new announcement Amazon made about storage volumes? The AWS blog has the official stuff and of course I immediately wrote-up how I see it change the game at
The Amazon folks are on a roll!

With the addition of the storage volumes there's no doubt in my mind anymore: the cloud adopters will have much more computing horsepower and flexibility at their fingertips than those who are still racking their own machines. Cloud computing is going to be as significant for deployment as agile is for software development. You either compute in the cloud or you'll be left behind by your competitors because they can deploy faster, better, and cheaper than you can.

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