Amazon Web services started offering an off-premise cloud in 2006 for access to a robust infrastructure. Probably the most popular example of off-premise cloud computing with the Amazon offering was the New York Times converting issues dating back to 1851. There were Terabytes of .TIFF files that were put into the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and converted to .PDF files. The end result is data that powers the TimesMachine Web site that provides historical issues of the popular newspaper. Besides EC2, the Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud service was used. The data was uploaded to the S3 cloud and then converted to PDF with programs in the EC2 cloud. The entire compute cycle cost less than $250. Consider the cost alternative to doing that in-house?

Beyond S3 and EC2, Amazon Web services offer many other services. One newer addition to the portfolio is the Amazon MapReduce Web service. MapReduce will interact with S3 and EC2 and perform large amounts of processing by a configurable number of similar worker processes. MapReduce uses the Hadoop distributed workload model. The good example is log file interpretation and parsing. Mike Culver from Amazon Web services gives a good video on how to get started with the MapReduce Web service.

So, what can the standard organization do with Amazon Web services? With S3, EC2, and MapReduce, I have some creative ideas flowing. We will need access to a good Web developer for the small applets that will run in the cloud, however. Nonetheless, what if a Web service that you currently run on a Web server internally could be bundled up (into Java for example) and run on a cloud? If you eliminated the licensing, hardware, space, power, and cooling for that system, would it make sense? Pricing for S3, EC2, and MapReduce are pretty attractive.

Still we are faced with the question, where does this fit into my IT space? This is where we can get creative and make a solution that saves on the bottom line.

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