Simple DB: the final piece of the puzzle falls into place

Amazon just announced “SimpleDB“, which sounds a lot like the rumored “SDS” or “Simple Database Service” that we’ve all been waiting for.
This is huge: the single biggest thing stopping you from running a webapp on EC2 is the fact that there’s nowhere safe for your database to live. EC2 is a virtual hosting service, so if a machine crashes and is rebooted, any data written to the hard drive simply disappears. Not good. As a result, EC2 was framed as a great solution for back-end processing (think transcoding videos for youtube), but not a great fit for an entire web application.
Solutions (including backing up your database continually to S3), for this problem never were very convincing. But it was always clear that SOME major initiative that would solve this problem was planned.
Now we know. This isn’t a vanilla mysql clustering service: it’s something a little weirder (it’s conceptually similar to a database, but lacks many of the features of a database, and works somewhat differently). As a result, you’ll have to build your app from the ground up as an Amazon app: this isn’t a drop-in replacement for mysql cluster.
But the benefits are potentially huge. Imagine you’re building a facebook application. You could use SimpleDB, EC2, and S3 to provide the backend, and pay very little in infrastructure costs until you actually started getting real traction. Your system would transparently scale (simply add more EC2 nodes as web/app servers as your server load increases), and you would never, ever have to worry about the huge P.I.T.A. (pain in the ass) that is setting up a database cluster, designing schemas for federating data across multiple databases, etc.
There’s never been a better time to be a software entrepreneur. Amazon has once again lowered the upfront cost of starting up a new web business, and at the same time dramatically increased the number of use cases that their other services can be used for.
Coverage from techcrunch, and gigaom here. Marcelo Calbucci frames the services as a “directory service rather than a database service“.