Amazon's EC2 compute-on-demand service moved out of beta and into production today, with the key difference being that there's now a Service Level Agreement (SLA) ensuring customer credits should EC2's uptime fall below 99,95 percent. Amazon previously offered an SLA for its S3 storage service, but not EC2. Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server are now available in beta for EC2, which is also adding a management console, load balancing and monitoring services.
These additions are the latest advances in Amazon Web Service's transition from a playground for developers into a cloud platform offering on-demand services suitable for startups and enterprises alike. While the definition of "beta" has become decidedly fuzzy (Google has half its products in beta, including Gmail), there's no question that beta status and the lack of an SLA are a barrier to adoption for many enterprises. EC2 has now eliminated those potential resistance points.
Amazon's timing is fortuitous, as noted in a post by CTO Werner Vogels that addressed the current business environment:
In recent weeks in my discussions with many of our Amazon Web Services customers I have seen a heightened interest in moving functionality into the AWS cloud to get a better grasp on controlling cost. And this is across the board; from young businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises, from research labs to television networks, all are concerned about reducing upfront cost associated with the new ventures and reducing waste in existing operations.