Archive for October, 2009

PayPhrase Attacks Paypal! News at 11.

October 29th, 2009 2 comments

Ok, now they’ve gone and done it. Amazon just doesn’t know when to quit. Is there a web service they don’t want to own? I josh. I like Amazon and like to see them put new and useful services out there and I am a big proponent of competition. I think competition is good for everyone as long as it doesn’t become predatory.

Now, Amazon has been going after Paypal for a while now with Amazon Checkout. But now, they have made this a super simple, no login, purchase tool with PayPhrase – the easy-to-remember shortcut for paying on and other websites.

According to Amazon,

PayPhrase links your payment and shipping information with a simple phrase that you choose. With PayPhrase, you no longer have to register or share credit card information with multiple web sites.

With Amazon Checkout, my info is stored and some kind of token is exchanged with a vendor so my personal information doesn’t need to be. I like Paypal and use it fairly heavily when paying for things on the internet. I also like Amazon and even have an Amazon credit card. I think I buy something from them at least once a month. Now, I don’t even need to login.

The cool thing about PayPhrase is the control you can put on an account. You can give your kid access and set spending limits and have it send you order approval notifications. Man, I need that for XBox Live! You can use it to give your kids an allowance. Set them up with a PayPhrase using your credit information and then set a monthly limit. Sweet!

There is no way that PayPhrase is as widely supported as Paypal right now. Amazon CheckOut market share has got to be minimal compared to PayPal. Have to see how well it spreads over time. For a developer or merchant already on AWS, it’s kind of a no brainer to include this. They already have some merchants using PayPhrase: DKNY, Jockey, Patagonia,, J&R Electronics, and Car Toys to name a few.

If you sign up, the system will generate a phrase for you. I didn’t like mine as there is no way I would ever remember it. They also list some suggestions but I didn’t like those. Almost every suggestion included the word “bread”. They trying to tell me something? I swear I’ve cut back on the carbs!

It must be at least two words and contain no numbers. This is NOT a password. It is a pass phrase.

Once you’ve chosen your phrase, you also have to enter a pin number (4 digits). When complete you verify your credit card and payment info and then you are the proud owner of a new PayPhrase.

Be interesting to see if they make any kind of a dent in PayPal. This is a service of Amazon Checkout which is a sub-service of Amazon Payments. I don’t believe PayPhrase is an additional fee on top of CheckOut. CheckOut has very reasonable pricing.

Take care,


Categories: cloud data Tags: , , ,

Amazon EC2 Price DEcrease and bigger boxes!

October 28th, 2009 Comments off

AWS Price Decrease

Upcoming Price Changes

Effective November 1, 2009, we will be lowering prices for all On-Demand instances. The tables below show the existing and future On-Demand prices.

How often does a vendor REDUCE their prices, and thereby lowering your bill, without some nasty contract renegotiation? In my experience, never. One more reason to really like Amazon’s web services.

Starting November 1, 2009, EC2 prices are dropping 15% across the board (for linux AMIs). For a small image, that means a drop from $0.10/hour to $0.085/hour, large is going from $0.4/hour to $0.34/hour and the extra large are going from $0.8/hour to $0.68/hour. For a business using several instances (usually in the large and extra-large capacities), this could be a significant savings over time. Think about – a 15% reduction and you don’t have to do anything to get it.

Data transfer and storage stay the same so it’s not a complete 15% reduction in your entire bill. I still think this is a significant poke at Microsoft and others getting into the cloud market. Windows AMIs are being reduced to but at a smaller percentage. For example, the Extra Large windows instance is dropping from $1.00/hour to $0.98/hour.

I need a bigger box!

Amazon has added some new server sizes to the farm. I love the names. Remember double, extra top secret (I think that was from Get Smart). Let’s try these names on for size. Amazon is added in the Double Extra Large High-Memory On-Demand Instance and Quadruple Extra Large High-Memory On-Demand Instance. Say that 5 times real fast.

These puppies are not cheap: $1.20/hour and $2.40/hour, respectively. They are, however, beefy!

High-Memory Double Extra Large Instance

34.2 GB of memory
13 EC2 Compute Units (4 virtual cores with 3.25 EC2 Compute Units each)
850 GB of instance storage
64-bit platform
I/O Performance: High

High-Memory Quadruple Extra Large Instance

68.4 GB of memory
26 EC2 Compute Units (8 virtual cores with 3.25 EC2 Compute Units each)
1690 GB of instance storage
64-bit platform
I/O Performance: High


Take care,


MySQL in Spaaaaaace – Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS)

October 27th, 2009 Comments off

Yep, looks like Amazon finally clued in to the fact that SimpleDB is pretty much useless for any mission critical work. They’ve added a new web services, Relational Database Service, abbreviated RDS.

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) is a web service that makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while managing time-consuming database administration tasks, freeing you up to focus on your applications and business.

Amazon RDS gives you access to the full capabilities of a familiar MySQL database. This means the code, applications, and tools you already use today with your existing MySQL databases work seamlessly with Amazon RDS. Amazon RDS automatically patches the database software and backs up your database, storing the backups for a user-defined retention period. You also benefit from the flexibility of being able to scale the compute resources or storage capacity associated with your relational database instance via a single API call. As with all Amazon Web Services, there are no up-front investments required, and you pay only for the resources you use.

This is pretty slick. I haven’t played with it yet as it was just announced but it seems to be an API driven mysql instance. For slightly more than a base instance, 0.11/hour RDS vs 0.10/hour base EC2 (this price is dropping 15% BTW) on a small server, you get a complete server with MySQL installed. You can create and manage your database instances via procedural call (the API) and you can scale to larger instances or additional storage fairly painlessly by also using those APIs. You also pay extra for your storage of course.

That’s about it from what I’ve read. I don’t see any automated replication (beyond the normal AWS safety features) and I don’t see any kind of clustering or sharding. This is not what most people would call a cloud database. It’s just an easy to configure, maintain and grow MySQL server. Not that that’s bad. For a small business with some technical savvy but not a lot of time, this is an awesome addition to AWS. I would be willing to bet that some kind of clustering will come, sooner or later.

Ooops, just stumbled across:

Coming Soon: High Availability Offering — For developers and business who want additional resilience beyond the automated backups provided by Amazon RDS at no additional charge. With the high availability offer, developers and business can easily and cost-effectively provision synchronously replicated DB Instances in multiple availability zones (AZ’s), to protect against failure within a single location.

One of the things I have always liked about AWS is that they really do make it simple. For the uses cases where SimpleDB is appropriate, using it is a no brainer, as is EC2 and S3. AWS even makes queuing simple. RDS keeps to that methodology.

Amazon RDS allows you to use a simple set of web services APIs to create, delete and modify relational database instances (DB Instances). You can also use the APIs to control access and security for your instance(s) and manage your database backups and snapshots. For a full list of the available Amazon RDS APIs, please see the Amazon RDS API Guide. Some of the most commonly used APIs and their functionality are listed below:

CreateDBInstance — Provision a new DB Instance, specifying DB Instance class, storage capacity and the backup retention policy you wish to use. This one API call is all that’s needed to give you access to a running MySQL database, with the software pre-installed and the available resource capacity you request.

ModifyDBInstance — Modify settings for a running DB Instance. This lets you use a single API call to scale the resources available to your DB Instance in response to the load on your database, or change how it is automatically backed up and maintained on your behalf.

DeleteDBInstance — Delete a running DB Instance. With Amazon RDS, you can terminate your DB Instance at any time and pay only for the resources you used.

CreateDBSnapshot — Generate a snapshot of your DB Instance. You can restore your DB Instance to these user-created snapshots at any point, even to reinstate a previously deleted DB Instance.

RestoreDBInstanceToPointInTIme — Create a new DB Instance from a point-in-time backup. You can restore to any point within the retention period you specified, usually up to the last five minutes of your database’s usage.

This is a very cool addition to AWS. I am looking forward to playing with it. It’s important to note that if you are capable of administering your own server and database, you can save money by running a base EC2 instance and DIY. If you want to run any database other than MySQL, you have to do that anyway.