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For a growing number of companies, the cloud is an incredibly appealing proposition. It allows organizations to scale up (and down) infrastructure and services as needed, and you generally pay only for what you use.
But that doesn't mean that the cloud isn't without its challenges. Some, such as architecting fail-proof applications, are well documented. But there are others which don't often get as much attention. One: keeping track of what your company is spending.
When it comes to building and operating the infrastructure to power some of the most popular services on the internet, it's no surprise that many companies have decided that Amazon can do a better, more cost-effective job than they can.
Amazon's AWS infrastructure-as-a-service offerings, of course, aren't perfect. Outages, some of them quite large and ugly, do happen.
In the .com boom of the 1990s, companies building a presence on the nascent commercial web bought servers and put them in data centers. In many cases, this costly approach was a necessity.
Fast forward to today. Some of the most popular sites on the internet -- run by large, established companies and young startups alike -- don't own servers, and they've never set foot inside a data center thanks to cloud services like Amazon AWS.
Last October, Google introduced limits to the Google Maps API and unveiled pricing for users exceeding those limits.
It was not a happy day for developers and companies running popular services on the Google Maps API. The reason: Google's jaw-dropping pricing, which pegged the cost of every 1,000 map loads above 25,000 at $4.
While Facebook's $1bn acquisition of Instagram may be the biggest red flag yet that we're in a bubble once again, one thing is certain: when the bubble deflates or bursts, countless companies and start-ups yet to be born will come away with more than they came to the party with.
That's because the latest internet boom has brought us a new generation of companies that open source many of the tools and technologies they build to solve their biggest challenges.
Amazon is not just the kingpin of online retail. Increasingly, thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS), the Seattle-based company is at the center of many companies' clouds.
The rise of AWS is impressive, and Amazon owes much of its success to the breadth and depth of its cloud platform, which is used by hundreds of thousands of customers, large and small.
Consumers may know Amazon as one of the internet's most dominant ecommerce brand, but over the years, Amazon has also built a formidable profile as a provider of cloud computing services.
Yesterday, Amazon announced that its cloud is growing to cover email with the launch of a new bulk email delivery service called Amazon Simple Email Service (SES).
The cloud may be the future of computing, but that doesn't mean that users will always have sunny days ahead.
PC Magazine's John C. Dvorak is a confessed cloud skeptic, but it's hard to avoid the cloud these days and he learned the hard way that the cloud often doesn't mean a whole lot.