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Amazon cloud services: What's new?

Expert Chris Moyer discusses whether Amazon cloud services are new or simply updates of older services.

Are any of the Amazon cloud services that have been coming out lately really new? Aren't they just derivatives?

From what I see, most of the cloud services that Amazon has produced recently are simply using old services to build new things.

Amazon Kinesis is not really a new product, it's simply a framework around Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Simple Notification Service (SNS) and Elastic Compute Cloud 2, or EC2, all of which are described in the AWS directory.

Kinesis does not do anything you can't already do with these existing products, but it packages it all up into one nice little setup and automatically handles best practices, like keeping messages hidden while processes are running. If you're making a new application, it might make sense to start off with using Kinesis for batch processing. But if you're already using SQS and SNS, there's not much reason to switch.

Amazon DataPipeline was also a service that didn't offer much new overtop of SQS and Elastic MapReduce (EMR). However, DataPipeline did add something that other services didn't offer, a management server that could run a CRON-like scheduler to periodically trigger tasks. Unfortunately, the tight tie-in to EMR made the service less useful, since it became a very specific purpose-driven service.

Amazon DynamoDB is the newer version of Amazon SimpleDB. DynamoDB offers the ability to provision how much throughput you need, and offers much higher scalability. It doesn't do as much indexing, and doesn't allow for the vast amount of querying that Amazon SimpleDB offered, but it is a similar offering.

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) is simply a managed MySQL server and is now supporting other SQL servers as well. It does do a little more than just running a SQL Server on an Electric Block Store-backed image, allowing Amazon to manage it. Still this was a derivation of an existing service, and AWS noticed a lot of customers were struggling with themselves.

Amazon ElastiCache is nothing more than EBS servers running either Memcached or Redis databases. With the Memcached offering, Amazon has started adding an additional layer on top of the basic offering, which allows automatic configuration of Memcached clients.

Amazon RedShift is also very similar to Amazon RDS, but it's built for higher scalability. Unlike RDS, RedShift is a column-based SQL store, based on Postgres, yet still different enough that it can easily be scaled to handle petabytes of data and billions of read operations per second.

This was first published in April 2014

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