Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) definition

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: AWS vs. Google comparison guide

The Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a Web-based service that allows business subscribers to run application programs in the computing environment. The EC2 can serve as a practically unlimited set of virtual machines.

To use the EC2, a subscriber creates an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) containing the operating system, application programs and configuration settings. Then the AMI is uploaded to the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and registered with Amazon EC2, creating a so-called AMI identifier (AMI ID). Once this has been done, the subscriber can requisition virtual machines on an as-needed basis. Capacity can be increased or decreased in real time from as few as one to more than 1000 virtual machines simultaneously. Billing takes place according to the computing and network resources consumed.

This was first published in August 2010

Next Steps

Check out our AWS EC2 guide to learn more about how the cloud service works and help you decide if it is the right choice for your organization.

Learn more about the the features and benefits of deploying AWS cloud services in the enterprise.

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