Amazon is launching a new service – the Elastic Compute Cloud (or EC2 to its friends).

Like S3, its storage service, EC2 is a “cloud” service, treating compute resources as a commodity that can be charged for as a utility. Machine images are used to handle applications – with templates available to ease configuration. Amazon is currently supporting Fedora Core 3 and 4 Linux OSes with a 2.6 kernel, though it says any 2.6 kernel–based distribution should work. Each image is the equivalent of:

a system with a 1.7Ghz Xeon CPU, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/s of network bandwidth.

S3 will be used for storage. Pricing is good, too, especially when compared to Sun’s $1/CPU/Hour:

  • Pay only for what you use.
  • $0.10 per instance-hour consumed (or part of an hour consumed).
  • $0.20 per GB of data transferred outside of Amazon (i.e., Internet traffic).
  • $0.15 per GB-Month of Amazon S3 storage used for your images (charged by Amazon S3).

Worth looking at as a prototyping facility, or as a source of quick compute power when required.

It’s only limited beta to start with, though. So don’t start piling on to it yet!

There’s a FAQ here.

Crossposted to Technology, Books and Other Neat Stuff.