Amazon Opens Up Alexa Search Index

Amazon on Tuesday rolled out the Alexa Web Search Platform, which opens up 5 billion documents and 300 terabytes of data to anyone, along with offering computer and storage time for processing tasks. The idea is to enable the creation of new services that utilize Alexa's vast Web archive and search technology.

In its simplest form, Amazon is providing storage space and server power to users at a price of $1 per CPU hour consumed, $1 per gig of storage used, $1 per 50 gigs of data processed, and $1 per gig of data uploaded. A user will have access to the equivalent of a 3.6GHz Linux server with 4GB of memory.

The Alexa platform offers a giant data store for users, currently boasting 12 terabytes of space. This storage area is separate from Alexa's own Web data, which is comprised of three separate snapshots of the Internet. Each snapshot includes 100 terabytes of files and a new snapshot is rotated in every two months.

"Anyone can also use Alexa's servers and processing power to mine its index to discover things - perhaps, to outsource the crawl needed to create a vertical search engine, for example," explains search expert John Battelle.

"Or maybe to build new kinds of search engines entirely, or ...well, whatever creative folks can dream up. And then, anyone can run that new service on Alexa's (er...Amazon's) platform, should they wish."

Amazon has put together an example photo search that takes advantage of the Alexa platform to seek out photos with very specific parameters such as camera model, exposure time and more. Such vertical searches are not currently possible on closed search platforms such as Google and Yahoo.

"In other words, Alexa and Amazon are turning the index inside out, and offering it as a web service that anyone can mashup to their hearts content. Entrepreneurs can use Alexa's crawl, Alexa's processors, Alexa's server farm....the whole nine yards," adds Battelle.

Because the Alexa Web Search Platform is currently in beta, only a limited number of accounts will be available. Signing up is free, and accounts will be billed once a month for the services used. Amazon account managers will aid in the process of getting users setup and answer any questions.

A FAQ and user guide are available detailing how ASWP can be used by developers.

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