I had a note from a break-out session I led at defrag a few months ago that read "database is back". It was by far the biggest take away from the two-day conference for me. While a significant infrastructure has developed around simplifying and virtualizing pretty much every aspect of the technology stack, the common denominator to all NextGenWeb, Web 2.0, social networking, aspiring platform companies is the database. And while the other elements of the technology stack are getting all of the fanfare the very unsexy database that back-ends all of this great new stuff is the real hero. After all, many of the companies in the categories I mention above are really just fancy front-ends to a large. This presents problems for companies that are developing new services since there are very few options for lightweight databases and essentially no options for virtualizing these databases (at least nothing very robust and scalable). For the most part they’re stuck handling the set-up, implementation and maintenance of this technology themselves. The result is greater cost, more headaches and an inability to quickly scale if their business is successful.
The post I intended to write after the conference was going to point this out and push for a forward thinking company to come up with a solution. Procrastinate for a few weeks and that’s just what happens (minus the original blog post). Amazon today is releasing a limited beta of SimpleDB – a cloud based database to compliment its S2 and EC2 offerings. From the Amazon site: "This service works in close conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), collectively providing the ability to store, process and query data sets in the cloud." The addition of SimpleDB makes the Amazon stack an unbelievably compelling value.
This is great news for web companies looking to buy all of their infrastructure by the drink and move infrastructure costs from upfront CapEx to more manageable operational expense. Not to mention the added ability to quickly scale up or down depending on success. Sure – eventually when they’re successful many companies will find it cheaper (and operational expedient) to manage their own infrastructure. Eventually . . .