Amazon has been adding all kinds of features to attract enterprise users to its Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform, but with a new caching product, it’s turning its focus back to web developers. Tuesday morning, the retailing giant said it will offer resilient caching via a product called ElastiCache, which will help speed up the delivery of applications in the cloud. From the blog posting:
” …given the widespread usage of caching, maintenance of cache servers is no longer a differentiator and everyone will have to uptake it as the “costs of doing business”. Amazon ElastiCache takes away many of the headaches of deploying, operating and scaling the caching infrastructure. A Cache Cluster, which is a set of collaborating Cache Nodes, can be started in minutes. Scaling the total memory in the Cache Cluster is under complete control of the customers as Caching Nodes can be added and deleted on demand. Amazon Cloudwatch can be used to get detailed metrics about the performance of the Cache Nodes. Amazon ElastiCache automatically detects and replaces failed Cache Nodes to protect the cluster from those failure scenarios. Access to the Cache Cluster is controlled using Cache Security Groups giving customers full control over which application components can access which Cache Cluster.
The product is compliant with memcached, a free and open-source system which companies such as Facebook, Zynga and others already use to ensure users don’t have to wait long to see their status updates or gameplay. Amazon’s new product will do the same thing for other app developers who don’t have their own infrastructure, but realize that cache matters. Faster access to data has been a trend that is changing the data center and bringing high-dollar Flash memory into and alongside servers from a variety of vendors.
For Amazon, offering products and tweaks for web developers may be a response to more Platforms-as-a-Service such as Heroku, DotCloud or Red Hat’s Makara platform gaining ground among developers who don’t want to worry about infrastructure. It may also be a response to products that also make it easier to choose your own infrastructure with a PaaS overlay, as VMware’s Cloud Foundry and OpenLogic’s CloudSwing does. With OpenStack making huge strides, Amazon might be feeling the threat of competition on the infrastructure side and also from platforms.
Just a few days ago, Amazon’s CTO Werner Vogels posted what he called a “hacker” post aimed at telling bloggers how to host dynamic content on their web pages using Amazon’s storage product instead of their own server. The how-to post highlighted some independent tools and a feature Amazon launched in its S3 product in February. I wondered if Vogels was changing his style a bit to appeal to more casual developers and bloggers, or if this was just a one-off post. My hunch is if Amazon is feeling threatened by the rapidly changing IaaS and PaaS environments, Vogels may put on his “hacker” hat more often.