Content Delivery Networks (CDN) such as Akamai and Atlanta’s own Internap handle the problem of delivering content (especially large content), handling all of the scalability and geographical delivery optimization. This market has become fairly commoditized, and since it requires huge investment in hardware in many locations and software to glue it together, new competition in this market would seem unlikely.
Amazon Web Services just announced the innocuously named Elastic IP Addresses and EC2 Availability Zones. Elastic IP lets you associate a static IP address with an individual EC2 instance – slick. “Availability Zones” effectively let you deploy your apps into different “zones” (probably different physical data centers) to protect against outages in a single “zone” or the internet around that “zone”. This feature also supports regions, currently only us-east is available.
Where this gets interesting is when they add some more regions. Amazon promises faster performance between servers in the same zone, so it seems necessary that at some point, they’ll ensure that you can load your S3 content from the same zone your server’s in. So now you have a geographically distributed network of servers that can delivery large amounts of content and handle any spikes in server or bandwidth demand. Hmm… sounds like a CDN. You can imagine someone building an entirely new CDN based entirely on Amazon Web Services (or should we call it SkyNet?). Or is this the beginning of Amazon exposing the internal plumbing they’re putting in place to make S3 itself behave more like a CDN?
SkyNet (AWS) just keeps getting more interesting. At least until it becomes sentient and sends an army of giant robot dogs after us.