Amazon, everyone's favorite online bookstore, also offers some pretty neat pay-per-use cloud computing systems. The company's just tweaked them, adding in all sorts of hooks for business networks to make it an even more useful resource.
Here's the technobabble from Amazon: "Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) lets you create your own logically isolated set of Amazon EC2 instances and connect it to your existing network using an IPsec VPN connection. This new offering lets you take advantage of the low cost and flexibility of AWS while leveraging the investment you have already made in your IT infrastructure."
Let's decode that: Amazon's already got a system called Elastic Compute Cloud that lets you rent processor time on its extensive and powerful computing network, for those moments you need boosted computing power--useful if you're a chemist, for example, needing to calculate some molecular structure but don't have the technology available locally. That's the EC2 part, and it sits within Amazon's greater Amazon Web Services system, which has other features like database management and data storage that's able to supply a "complete solution for computing, query processing and storage across a wide range of applications." All of this stuff already exists, and it all sits in Amazon's compute cloud, accessible by end-users through a Web-based interface--it's kind of like buying a time share of Amazon's bigger computing system, and crafting it into a virtual computer that you can access remotely.
The new capability, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, takes these virtual machines, and lets you seamlessly hook them back up to your companies network--making them feel less that they're working "in Amazon's cloud" and more like they're an integrated part of your own system. In other words, you can now use Amazon's powerful remote computers just like they were your own, and everything should sync nicely through your existing firewall systems, security grids and intrusion-detection systems. Those are the systems you've been building up for years, the ones that cost you lots of money, that your engineers know inside and out, and that you trust.
Speaking to TechFlash, Amazon's VP of product management Adam Selipsky noted that the new capability "enables enterprises to connect their existing infrastructure, which in many cases is billions of dollars, to a set of virtually isolated AWS resources."
Why is this interesting? Amazon's basically taking a big step forward in the race to business-level cloud computing. It's going to be a big industry, with plenty of cash on offer for the winners, which is why Google's already got its cloud computing powers on line, Microsoft's playing along with its plans for a cloud-based OS and Office productivity tools, and even Apple's rumored to be trying to join in with a massive new server center.