Amazon is flying high. While the online retailer is still pulling in the vast majority of its revenue from retail, it has also become one of the biggest players in the cloud computing space.

And Amazon’s cloud is only growing in size. Yesterday it announced that it will be launching a new relational database as a service called Amazon RDS and a new range of high-memory instances of Amazon EC2.

Amazon RDS is essentially MySQL in the cloud. According to Werner Vogels, Amazon’s CTO:

It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity, while managing time-consuming
database administration tasks for customers. The service takes much of the
hassle out of setting up and managing relational databases, such as backups and
code patching, freeing up its users to focus on their applications and business

Amazon RDS provides the full capabilities of a MySQL Database, which means
that libraries, applications and tools that have been designed for use with
MySQL can be used without modification. This makes it very simple for customers
to start using Amazon RDS. As with all AWS services Amazon RDS is a scalable
resource; its storage, processing power and memory usage can be adjusted on
demand and the customer only pays for those resources that have been used.

While Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing offering can be used to run a relational database, Amazon RDS could be a significant offering for Amazon, as databases can be very difficult to scale and maintain. Given how popular MySQL is, there’s no doubt that Amazon RDS will interest website owners who would like 

When it comes to EC2, Amazon also announced that it is offering high-memory EC2 instances:

In many cases, scaling out (by launching additional instances) is the best way to bring additional CPU processing power and memory to bear on a problem, while also distributing network traffic across multiple NICs (Network Interface Controllers). Certain workloads, however, are better supported by scaling up with a more capacious instance. Examples of these workloads include commercial and open source relational databases, mid-tier caches such as memcache, and media rendering.

Double Extra Large instances offer up 34.2 GB of RAM and 13 ECU while Quadruple Extra Large instances offer up 68.4 GB of RAM and 26 ECU. An ECU is Amazon’s compute unit and is “equivalent in CPU power to a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007-era AMD Opteron or Intel Xeon
“. Pricing is $1.20 per instance hour for Double Extra Large instances and $2.40 per instance hour for Quadruple Extra Large instances.

The key takeaway: Amazon may be the king of online retail but it’s aiming to be the king of cloud computing as well. The question still remains, however: is cloud computing the ace or the joker?

Photo credit: kevindooley via Flickr.