Amazon Goes After Cloud App Speed Bumps

Self-service ElastiCache, an on-demand caching system, works with database applications and application servers to boost response times.
Slideshow: Amazon's Case For Enterprise Cloud Computing
Slideshow: Amazon's Case For Enterprise Cloud Computing
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Amazon Web Services (AWS) is adding an in-memory service for applications, Amazon ElastiCache, so applications can summon application logic and data from memory instead of disk.

The move pulls the Amazon cloud environment, where customers tap into the services they need in an automated, self-service fashion, closer to being on par with enterprise environments where using in-memory processing is already a well established technique. Applications with business logic code objects or data in memory can speed up their response times, avoiding the waits of going to disk. In-memory techniques are also frequently used by social networking systems, online games, and high volume content delivery applications.

Oracle and IBM offer in-memory systems that work with database applications, and in May, Software AG purchased Terracotta, a San Francisco in-memory management system for Java applications, for an undisclosed amount.

The new AWS service will be based on the popular open source code system Memcached, an object caching system.

"Caching is a core part of many Web applications today, but running your own caching infrastructure is time consuming and rarely adds differentiated value for your business," said Raju Gulabani, VP of database services at AWS, in Monday's announcement. ElastiCache is designed to be a flexible service, able to respond to demand, while maintaining high availability.

Customers can control the scale of their caching system in the cloud through the Amazon Management Console, which presents controls for each service. By clicking on selections in the console, a user can launch a cluster of caching servers running Memcached. The amount of memory devoted to cache can be expanded or contracted by adding or deleting nodes on the cluster.

The service checks and replaces failed nodes and protects against a database application slowing or becoming overloaded due to disappearing cache. Key metrics on the service are collected and presented through Amazon CloudWatch, the AWS monitoring service that continually reports on service operations. Metrics customized to individual accounts can be set up for a charge of $0.50 per metric per month.

PBS Public Broadcasting, self-service ticketing TicketLeap, and the Tapjoy mobile application network were cited as users of ElastiCache in the announcement. The service works with Amazon Relational Database Service and application servers set up in the Elastic Compute Cloud.

It is priced based on the size of the cache nodes activated, with a low-end unit priced at $0.095 per hour. It is available through the northern Virginia, U.S. East region of EC2 and will be available in other zones within a few months, AWS spokesmen said.

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