Amazon Takes on Oracle and IBM With SimpleDB

amaxon-web-services-logo.pngCompanies can now go ahead and fire their expensive database administrators—those engineers who keep the Oracle or IBM databases humming. Amazon has just added an enterprise-class database called SimpleDB to its suite of cloud-based IT infrastructure, which also includes storage (S3) and computation (EC2) available by the drink. Today, Amazon is taking sign-ups for the SimpleDB beta, which should start in a few weeks. As it points out on the new Simple DB page:

Amazon SimpleDB is a web service for running queries on structured data in real time. 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. These services are designed to make web-scale computing easier and more cost-effective for developers.

Traditionally, this type of functionality has been accomplished with a clustered relational database that requires a sizable upfront investment, brings more complexity than is typically needed, and often requires a DBA to maintain and administer. In contrast, Amazon SimpleDB is easy to use and provides the core functionality of a database – real-time lookup and simple querying of structured data – without the operational complexity. Amazon SimpleDB requires no schema, automatically indexes your data and provides a simple API for storage and access. This eliminates the administrative burden of data modeling, index maintenance, and performance tuning. Developers gain access to this functionality within Amazon’s proven computing environment, are able to scale instantly, and pay only for what they use.

This will be especially attractive for Web startups. Amazon has just taken another major infrastructure cost off the table for them. Relational databases are expensive to buy and maintain. Whatever features or performance SimpleDB lacks, it should make up for in price. Amazon wants to democratize the database by making it available to more businesses, and even individuals, thus leveling the playing field between big companies and startups even more.

And since SimpleDB operates at Web scale, larger companies will wake up to the cost saving opportunities of such a service as well. IBM, for one, is already trying to preempt any customer defections with its copycat Blue Cloud initiative. If speed is of the essence, you might still want to keep your database on your own servers. But the Web is where most software will one day live, whether consumer or enterprise. And Amazon’s got nothing to lose by speeding that day along.

Pricing for SimpleDB is as follows:

Machine Utilization – $0.14 per Amazon SimpleDB Machine Hour consumed

Data Transfer

$0.10 per GB – all data transfer in

$0.18 per GB – first 10 TB / month data transfer out
$0.16 per GB – next 40 TB / month data transfer out
$0.13 per GB – data transfer out / month over 50 TB

Data transfer “in” and “out” refers to transfer into and out of Amazon SimpleDB. Data transferred between Amazon SimpleDB and other Amazon Web Services is free of charge (i.e., $0.00 per GB).

Structured Data Storage – $1.50 per GB-month