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Amazon Web Services: Bigger Than Amazon

Web retailer Amazon announced their fourth quarter earnings today and included some interesting figures on the state of their distributed computing products. Namely, web services bandwidth now accounts for more bandwidth than all of Amazon’s global web sites combined. To put this in perspective, comScore ranked Amazon the 7th most visited site in the US in December. The retail giant was 6th in the UK, 9th in Canada, 11th in Germany, 11th in Japan, and 20th in France. In other words — Amazon is big, which means AWS-powered sites must be really big (collectively, at least).

Adoption of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) continues to grow. As an indicator of adoption, bandwidth utilized by these services in fourth quarter 2007 was even greater than bandwidth utilized in the same period by all of Amazon.com’s global websites combined.

As TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld points out, “That means startups and other companies using Amazon’s Web-scale computing infrastructure now bigger collectively than Amazon.com, at least as measured by bandwidth usage.”

Amazon also announced that there are now over 330,000 developers registered to use Amazon Web Services (AWS), an increase of 30,000 developers in the last quarter. Adoption of Amazon’s platform is very likely helped by the over 200,000 developers who have signed up to use Facebook’s platform. Amazon recently launched a specialized page for Facebook developers in an effort to court app developers to the AWS platform.

In November, Robert Scoble was in disbelief about the prospect of a serverless Internet company. Because of Amazon’s web services, anyone can build a scalable web site without actually owning a single server — and many companies are utilizing the service to do just that. “Let’s get this straight. Amazon used to be a book store,” he wrote. “Now they are hosting virtualized servers for Internet companies.”

A little over a year ago, Alex Iskold wrote about the Amazon web services stack, saying that it was “evidence of a new computing paradigm, where web services in aggregate give rise to a new web-based operating system.” But Alex also conceded that small and medium sized businesses would be the first to get on board with Amazon’s web scale computing platform. “Wall Street is not going to jump on this,” he wrote.

Amazon’s AWS success stories page still doesn’t include any fellow members of the Fortune 500, but it does include a number of successful or well-funded web 2.0 start ups. The usage numbers released today indicate that even though Amazon isn’t making a ton of money from their web services (TechCrunch guesses that AWS revenue was part of the $131 million “Other” category for the 4th quarter — which includes other services and isn’t much of the $5.7 billion in total Q4 revenue), they are striking a chord with developers and positioning themselves as a major provider of infrastructure services for an entire generation of web applications.

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