EC2 users begin by creating an Amazon Machine Image (AMI), which contains applications, libraries, data and configuration settings, or by using a pre-packaged, pre-configured file system template.
After uploading the appropriate software to Amazon S3, Amazon's online storage service, and configuring it for network access and security, the user's virtual machine is ready to go. Each virtual machine delivers performance equivalent to a system with a 1.7Ghz x86 processor, 1.75Gbytes of RAM, 160Gbytes of local disk, and 250Mbs of network bandwidth, according to Amazon.
With Amazon's new Paid AMI Support, EC2 users can become a software or application service provider, selling access to their particular server configuration. So rather than selling, say, blogging software that users have to download to a home computer then upload to a Web server and install, a software developer might create and deploy a Paid AMI that builds some profit into Amazon EC2's base price of 10 cents per instance-hour consumed, 10 cents per Gbyte of data in, and 18 cents per Gbyte out, plus Amazon S3 storage and request charges.
"For example, A Ruby on Rails Developer can now configure the entire stack (Nginx, Apache, Mongrel, MySQL and all the open source goodies that 'simply works'), set its price, say 15 cents/hour and 12 cents/Gbyte-up and 21 cents/Gbyte-down and fire away," said Jinesh Varia, an Amazon Web Services evangelist, on the AWS blog. "While Amazon EC2 gets the same old traditional 10 cents/hour, 10 cents/Gbyte-up and 18 cents/Gbyte-down, the developer (AMI-creator) gets the difference (in this case, 5 cents/hour, 2 cents/Gbyte-up, 3 cents/Gbyte-down) credited back to his account from [whoever] instantiates that image."
Some of the currently available AMIs include Journyx Timesheet (Fedora 4-PostgreSQL 8.2-Apache1.3) with S3 backup, Fedora Core with Drupal 5.1, Movable Type 4.0 Beta, Ubuntu Feisty 7.04 and Ruby on Rails, and Virtualmin + Webmin on Fedora 4.
The Paid AMI service requires the Amazon EC2 API Command Line Tools (v 1.2-11797 or higher).