Amazon Moves into Online Storage

Amazon's Web services arm on Tuesday introduced S3, a servicefor software developers that aims to provide a scalable and reliable data storage service at a low cost. S3 -- short for Simple Storage Service -- costs $0.15 per GB per month for storage, and $0.20 per GB of data transferred.

Developers would gain access to the same data storage infrastructure Amazon uses to run its network of Web sites. The company said it aims to pass the benefits of "Web-scale computing" on to developers.

Users of the service would be able to read, write and delete objects from 1 byte to 5 gigabytes of data in unlimited quantities, with each object assigned a separate key. The user also has the option to make the object private or public, and make it work with any REST or SOAP interface.

It should be noted that this service is not marketed for the general public; however, the possibilities of what it can be used for are endless. Virtually any file type can be uploaded to the service, says Amazon.

"Amazon S3 is based on the idea that quality Internet-based storage should be taken for granted," Amazon Web Services president Andy Jassy said.

Jassey added that "it helps free developers from worrying about where they are going to store data, whether it will be safe and secure, if it will be available when they need it, the costs associated with server maintenance, or whether they have enough storage available."

Noted technology pundit Michael Arrington says that in many cases, front end storage services would be better off moving their back ends to Amazon's S3 due to its low cost. "This is game changing," he said.

Several entities are already putting S3 to use in their projects. These include the University of California Berkeley "Stardust@Home" project, which is investigating data collected from its comet dust particle aerogel experiment; CastingWords, a service that transcribes audio podcasts to text; and FilmmakerLIVE.com, developer of storyboarding software for the motion picture industry.

Analysts say S3 will likely put to rest claims that Amazon is merely a retailer. "Not the least, this may be a message to anyone who might doubt that Amazon has the means to be a real player in digital media," BusinessWeek's Rob Hof said Monday.

Those interested in the service can learn more about it and register at the S3 Web site. There is no minimum fee or start-up cost, Amazon said.

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