About a year ago, I wrote a post about how content owners who wanted to deliver Flash streaming could use Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) along with a CDN to deliver streaming media based content. In the past few months, Amazon has made some new product announcements that over time, lead me to believe that more content owners are going to look to Amazon for video delivery needs, particularly those who are only delivering video via progressive download.
Last month, Amazon announced some new features with their cloud computing product including new functionality for Elastic IP Addresses and EC2 Availability Zones. Simply put, Elastic IP allows you to associate static IP addresses with a unique EC2 and Availability Zones lets you deploy your apps into different regions. Amazon is effectively allowing content owners to replicate apps in different data centers and in different regions, thereby also protecting them from outages. While only a limited number of U.S. based locations are available today, more locations, including those outside the U.S. will be added in the months ahead.
When the new locations are added, then this offering is something to really watch. Amazon is offering faster performance between servers in the same EC2 zones and one would expect they would then offer some level of performace guarantee across all zones. When this happens, they essentially become a content delivery network. We’re already starting to see some companies like Digital Fountain build an entirely new CDN offering around Amazon Web Services, and there are more to come.
It’s also interesting to see how much of the internal workings of Amazon’s cloud computing service they are willing to share with developers and everyone else. Most delivery networks are so closed and Amazon has wisely taken a different approach, primarily due to the size of the customer using their service. Wired has a great article from yesterday that talks about Amazon’s cloud computing service and the best line in it is the response from Amazon’s CEO when asked about cloud computing becoming a commitized service. "Commodity businesses don’t scare us," he says. "We’re experts at them. We’ve never had 35 or 40 percent margins like most tech companies."
While Amazon’s cloud computing service will have more of an impact over time, especially as it evolves into more of a traditional CDN offering, it still won’t be a big disruptor to the major CDNs like Akamai and others. For some customers Amazon could be a viable option with reliable and cheap services. But for many content owners, and in particularly those who have video, their needs are getting more complex each year as they struggle not to deliver bits, but rather solve the entire workflow problems associated with ingestion, transcoding, authentication, meta data, content management, syndication, tracking and reporting and traffic analysis.
That being said, anyone as smart and as big as Amazon is one to watch.