The VM Import feature additions are fairly straight-forward. VM Import has supported Windows 2008 in VMware's VMDK format from its first release. The latest update brings support for Windows 2003 and Windows 2008 images from VMware ESX, Citrix XenServer and Microsoft Hyper-V.
Users will have to pay for Amazon S3 and EBS storage to store the VM images during import and after, but there's no cost for the import feature on its own. For instance, Amazon says that it would cost about five cents to import a 10GB image from VMware, and then $0.10 per GB/month to store the image. If your IT budget can't afford the storage costs here, there's a problem.
Why would you want to start importing your Windows VMs into Amazon EC2? Naturally, Amazon would like to see customers moving data center workloads into EC2. If you're looking to scale up some of your workload, this might be a good way to do so. Another scenario is disaster recovery – your VMs can sit in wait in case of disaster, and then be used to launch services on Amazon EC2 in the event that you need to move to off-site computing in a hurry.
Amazon Debuts ElastiCache
The other special on Amazon's AWS menu this week is ElastiCache, a protocol-compliant drop-in for Memcached. What's this mean? In a nutshell, Amazon is trying to help its EC2 users get away from managing their own instance of Memcached, they can simply plug into ElastiCache using standard client libraries for Memcached.
This means that Amazon handles the management, monitoring, and operation of the in-memory cache for applications running on AWS. Not only does ElastiCache serve as a drop-in replacement for Memcached, it also provides a number of metrics to Amazon CloudWatch. This makes ElastiCache a more attractive option than Memcached in some cases for customers on EC2.
Pricing for ElastiCache is based on the instance of the cache node types that you use. Pricing starts at $0.095 per hour for a small cache node type, and goes all the way up to $2.24 per hour for a "quadruple extra large" high-memory cache node type. Running one node of the smallest instance would set you back about $68.40 per month. A "quadruple extra large" would run about $1,612 per month, assuming the instance ran all month. Pricing is by the node-hour used, and partial hours are billed as a full hour.
Note that ElastiCache is currently in beta, and only available in the US-East region for now. Expect Amazon to roll it out to additional regions as it receives more testing.