Amazon’s new S3 service looks very interesting indeed. At first glance, it just looks like a very cheap way of storing and retrieving files — which it is — but the really fascinating aspect is that there is no user interface. It is purely a web service. As Sam Newman says:
When you get down to it, Amazon S3 is simply a large, distributed hash map with an API. Unless people build applications on top of it, it’s useless.
The creators of S3 have gone out of their way to keep the architecture as simple as possible. This is a smart move. I’m a great believer in the power of stupid networks.
Leaving aside the underlying technology, S3 is good news in purely practical terms. If nothing else, this should start a price war for data storage. Yet another barrier to entry has been lowered for anyone looking to publish anything online. Odeo and YouTube are good for audio and video respectively, but the agnostic nature of S3 means that you can store and stream on your own terms.
Hardware has been getting cheaper and cheaper for some time. Now it looks like bandwidth is heading the same way (for some amusing anecdotes on bandwidth issues, be sure to listen to Bernie Burns’ keynote from SXSW).
I’m looking forward to playing around with S3. For a service with no face, it sure looks like it’s got legs.