It’s A Jungle Out There: AWS & The Age of Big Data

In the age of Big Data, Amazon is king of the jungle. Amazon.com is the mane; AWS is the tail.

Most people know Amazon.com as the world’s largest online retailer. However, Just as notable in the Big Data revolution as those little cardboard boxes that show up on your doorstep is Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Big Data refers to data sets that are too large to be processed and analyzed by traditional IT technologies. Whether your business just needs an email client, or involves processing millions of documents, the cloud makes it all possible affordable.

For start-ups, cash-flow is an issue. They need computing power, but those servers are pricy. Rather than begging investors for costly servers of their own, they can just rent the services they need from the cloud. If the company goes belly up, the investors don’t have to worry about setting up a yard sale to unload all that hardware. This makes it possible for more small companies to dare-to-be-great. Even for established companies, cloud computing lowers overhead and is often the most cost-efficient way to do business, period.

Another benefit of Amazon web servies is scalability. For example, what an app blows up over night? Remember in The Social Network when Zukerberg is really pissed at Eduardo for freezing Facebook’s bank accounts early on, threatening to interrupt service? [Jesse Eisenberg] was right to fear that interruption of service. In an age where the blink of an eye is too long for impatient web-users, it is not surprising that consumers have little patience for apps that don’t work right due to computing-related scalability issues. For example, in a previous post I lauded Draw Something for earning over 1 million downloads in its first ten days in the Android and Apple apps stores. However, right when I published this post, Draw Something was experiencing interruptions in service related to  exact types of scalability issues. The developers, OMGPOP, were able to overcome the majority of these problems in a matter of days. But, a number of people who read my post told me they tired to play, had a bad experience, and will probably never give Draw a second shot.

Amazon has a diverse portfolio of remote computing services. Amazon Simple Service Storage (S3) provides web service based storage. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) allows for scalable virtual private servers. Amazon Elastic MapReduce allows businesses, researchers, data analysts, and developers to easily and cheaply process vast amounts of data. And the list goes on.

These days, Amazon is not the only name in the game when it comes to remote-computing. Nonetheless, Amazon got the ball rolling for a host of other companies and continues to play a major role in the industry. Amazon S3 has grown from storing  2.6 billion objects in 2006 to 762 billion in 2011.

AWS and similar servies have made it possible for game-changing internet star-ups to think big. Cloud computing servies are the fertilizer that make Big Data possible.

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