Demand strains Amazon's storage services

Booming demand for Amazon.com's web services, which provide users with computing and storage capacity, has forced the company to scale back its beta programme and add extra datacentres and disk space.

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Booming demand for Amazon.com's web services, which provide users with computing and storage capacity, has forced the company to scale back its beta programme and add extra datacentres and disk space.

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos, speaking at the O'Reilly Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, said the firm's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) -- a beta service launched in November allowing companies to tap large amounts of computer capacity and pay for it as needed -- is "completely capacity-constrained".

"We hate being capacity-constrained," Bezos said. "It's not the right way to run a business. We are trying to get ourselves in a position with EC2 where we will be demand-constrained instead of capacity-constrained."

As for Amazon's Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), its year-old service that provides companies with as-needed storage capacity over the internet, the company is "adding new datacentre capacity and disk space as fast as we can," Bezos said.

The S3 service has grown from storing 800m objects last July to storing more than 5bn objects today, he added. On its busiest day, the service received 920m requests to store or retrieve objects, Bezos said.

Bezos noted that Blue Origin, a company he funded to build vehicles that would cut the cost of travel to outer space, used S3 in January to handle an unexpected huge spike in demand for access to its web page. When Blue Origin added video to its site, popular sites like Slashdot.org linked to it, and traffic exploded from almost nothing to more than 3.5 million visitors in a day, he said.

By using S3, "this was something that Blue Origin was able to do on the spur of the moment," he said. He noted that S3 storage capacity to cover the surge in demand cost Blue Origin about $304 (£152) for the month of January, mostly for the surge in demand.

Bezos said that the compute and storage infrastructure available through Amazon's web services can do the "heavy lifting" for users building a large-scale web application. If they use the services, the users will not have to focus on efforts like managing bandwidth or buying servers, which ultimately do not differentiate a business, he said.

"If you are going to build any kind of web-scale application, 70% of your energy goes into things on the back end," he said. "If this heavy lifting isn't done at a very high-quality level, it can torpedo your successful project."

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