Today is a special day for Amazon: the company just declared its cloud computing infrastructure based on Xen, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), as ready for production and introduced a Service Level Agreement (SLA).
Each account will be allowed to configure up to 20 virtual machines with option to have more.
To manage the whole virtual infrastructure Amazon is also introducing a new web management console.
More than that EC2 finally offers 32bit and 64bit Windows Server 2003 virtual machines, reachable through RDP, despite this new option is considered as part of a new beta program.
On top of Windows, Amazon also supports Authentication Services (for more than five accounts or for LDAP connection), IIS6 (including ASP.NET) and 64bit Microsoft SQL Server (Standard Edition only) but the company doesn’t clarify which version is offered.
The lack of Windows XP or Vista as supported virtual machines means that Amazon is not ready to offer on-demand VDI yet. But this first beta program certainly is the first step in that direction.
Even without a desktop OS, the potential of Windows-based cloud computing is enormous.
Now Amazon has the unique opportunity to demonstrate that Xen can be as reliable as VMware ESX in hosting Windows VMs in the largest infrastructure on the planet.
VMware, Microsoft, Citrix, Virtual Iron, Red Hat, Novell, Oracle, Sun and the whole Xen community will look at EC2 much carefully now.
Rackspace, which is building something similar to EC2, will have to work a lot to generate the same kind of interest.