On the way to work this morning I stopped by my local gourmet supermarket for some Aztec Trail Mix. I went to the bulk foods aisle, found what I wanted, and used the dispenser to measure out exactly what I needed -- just enough for the next couple of days of random snacking.
I hopped back into my car and started my commute to Seattle. I never listen to the radio anymore. Instead I listen to a number of podcasts -- some technical, some business, some fun, and some that are totally random. This morning the latest edition of the Amazon Wire was at the top of the list, and I enjoyed listening to that. At the very end of the show, Pat Kearney (the host) was kind enough to credit me with helping with some of the "engineering" behind the show.
This actually made me think back to a time a couple of months ago when I was helping to get the first version ready to go. We use a blogging tool to produce the Wire RSS feed, but it needed some custom modifications before being sent along to FeedBurner for final processing. I took the basic feed, did my hand edits, and then needed a place to put the modified version.
I could have stored it on one of my personal servers, or I could have checked it into the official Amazon CMS (content management system). It didn't seem right to use one of my own servers, and I didn't have time to figure out the best way to use our CMS. I was literally holding a little pile of bits in my hand, and I needed a robust URL-addressible place to put them. As always happens with these things, it was a Sunday evening and I had promised to get this done before the official launch on Monday.
Of course, the answer was to upload the feed to S3, and to point FeedBurner into Amazon S3. This was simple to do (I used the S3Curl example) and took just a few seconds. We already had an S3 account for our group, so I didn't even have to sign up.
At this point you are probably wondering what Aztec Trail Mix has to do with S3, and I am glad that you asked! Like that dispenser in the bulk foods aisle, S3 let me use just a little bit of disk storage, less than 5000 bytes. I got to choose how much I needed, and I didn't have to round up to the "family size" of Trail Mix, or use an entire dedicated server for data storage. This is the new world of scalable, on-demand web services. Pay for what you need and use, and not a byte more.
Best of all, that 5000 byte block of fast and reliable storage will cost far less than one penny per year to store, and the same to transfer.