Just over three months ago Amazon made a major move beyond online retail with the launch of its S3 grid storage service. The company today released some information about the program’s early progress. Online storage as a utility might seem unexciting to some, but it could be a real boon to innovation. S3 just passed 800 million discrete objects stored and has some interesting customers using the service. At $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used and $0.20 per GB of data transferred, the effort is poised to change the game for web services previously weighed down by the requirements of storing their own data.
Use cases range from large to small. Microsoft is using it to serve up its MSDN Direct Student Download to students around the world. Photosharing service Smugmug says it’s saved $500,000 by using S3 for its database that adds 10 terabytes of images each month. There are a number of start-ups leveraging S3 as their back-end for unique front-end storage apps. Other companies highlighted as using S3 include Altexa, ElephantDrive, Jungle Disk and MediaSilo.
You’re probably familiar with the argument that Net Neutrality is essential for innovation because small start ups must have access to affordable data transfer infrastructure. The same is true for storage – S3 has the potential to facilitate loads of innovation by commoditizing what was in the past a substantial resource drain for data intensive services. This is only the beginning and I’ll be excited to see more companies or features appear for which data storage is a solved problem.