The Amazon Web Services (AWS) StartUp event in Toronto

The team from came to Toronto (at the MaRS Building)to show us their stuff, and demo’s from some local folks showing the “what”, “where”, and “how” to their use of  AWS in real life. (no admission cost for the event. Yea!)
AWS the Start-up Project

Tracy Laxdal did a great job on all the the logistics and organizing.

Prashant Sridharan and Mike Culver, the Director and Evangelist for Amazon Web Services (respectively) kicked off things with comments and a presentation giving some background to the history of AWS, where things are too today and where you can expect this to go.
Prashant Sridharan, Director, Amazon Web Services

The overall focus was on the Infrastructure Services : in particular things like S3 Storage and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), but it did touch on the other parts (which is good because it did clarify some of them for me).
AWS the services side

Liitle Fish, Big Pond or Sushi?

Updated Sept 18th : Amazon CTO Werner Vogels has announced that Amazon is releasing a Content Delivery Network (CDN) in Expanding The Cloud, and on the AWS blog.

Update Nov 18th : Amazon’s CDN is out, via GigaOm : Amazon’s CloudFront Could Storm Rival CDNs, with more details on the AWS blog” Distribute Your Content With Amazon CloudFront and Amazon CTO Werner Vogel’s blog Expanding the Cloud: Amazon CloudFront. Go Stormly with cloudfront.

AWS future Directions

The meat of the afternoon was in  Customer Presentations :

Carlos Barrettara is from , a solution for publishers and adversiters on mobile platforms which -for example -would allow BlackBerry users to receive the latest headlines, news articles, feature columns, and editorials directly from Maclean’s and Canadian Business. As a very new startup they have been able to embrace AWS from the start.
Carlos Barrettara Polar Mobile

Carlos’s presentation is now on SlideShare.

Ilya Grigorik is from , which is a site and add-on and web service which acts as an intelligent RSS assistant to allow you to focus on the most information content of the Websites and Blogs you follow in your News Readers.
Ilya Grigorik AideRSS

Ilya talked about how they moved (in great detail, with numbers of servers : 14 for infrastructure and 70 (!) for web crawlers) the various parts onto the AWS cloud (including using Simple Queue Service ) as they gained comfort with it. Ilya’s presentation is now on Slide Share. (also their presentation from last year)

Chris Thiessen is from , which is bringing online the real bookstore experience of browsing bookshelves and making it an vivid experiance (SeaDragon meets Matrix meets Amazon?).
Chris Thiessen Zoomii

He also showed off the custom scripting he uses. We should get Chris out to a Demo Camp! Chris’s presentation is now on Slide Share.

Farhan Thawar is from whom enable corporate incentive programs.
Farhan Thawar I Love Rewards

They moved from a traditional self hosting infrastructure to the amazon cloud for all but some legacy application. Given they are a Software as a Service and integrate with SalesForce (another SaaS) it made sense to embrace this style of hosting. Farhan’s presenation is now on Slide Share.

Paul Bloore from talked about their newest product , (I promise I will stop call it TinyEye some day, Paul!) their image search engine that tells you where and how that image appears all over the web—even if it has been modified.
Paul Bloore Idee tinEye

Paul talked about how they used EC2 to build a spider army to scan the web for new images, (and process the imaging matching secret sauce?) (currently at  900 million, soon to be 1Giga+! images indexed, he said in this best Doctor Evil voice.) Then he showed of a unreleased iphone app that takes a book or cd cover and uses a similar algorithm as TinEye to identify it and fetches reviews. Which caused my brain melted down ….

(Update : see TinEye Mobile : iPhone visual search for stuff )

Okay, they they also did a Group Q&A
aws q&a

The is well worth your time, and is still to come to New York City, Boston/Cambridge, London, Amsterdam and Seattle.

Some of the Presentation from last year went up on SlideShare (which uses AWS), so I hope this years will too!

Update :  34 on the Toronto presentations are now on SlideShare the startup project, plus those for other locations.

(and Hello to Mugur Marculescu of WeGif who has new take on doing animated gifs, and more, online, and is moving to AWS.  I hope the visit to Toronto was a good one!)

Now excuse me will I do some Cloud Hacking…

minor updates :

other posts about the amazon web services start up tour in Toronto :

and thinking about “use cases which are different form the usual uses” :

  • batch processing, either semi temporary or semi permanent (how often do temporary – or short temp – system and applications last for years and years? often), when you need 1 or more (or 100) computers to process a set of data needed by other processes.
  • those semi temporary or semi permanent applications that are needed until the real solution comes along
  • Transitioning from one version of the infrastructure to the next, one customer at a time, and still roll back to the previous version.
  • Real testing infrastructure that actually look like the production infrastructure.
  • thinking about some side discussions I had with Chris Nolan who has a Comic Books application on the FaceBook platform (see the about for more info), I though of anther scenario : if you know you have big spikes in the traffic or processing demands : one day of the week -new comics come out on Tuesday- or year -election day-, or Month – Xmas-, then add servers only for that known period (and only pay for them during on that period).  You could also monitor loads and start adding servers auto-magically when you exceed a threshold and remove them when you go before certian thresholds.

Any other suggestions come to mind?