CDN, Mathematica, MatLab – Easier to Set up in Amazon Web Services than Corporate Data Center

Here is a blog entry about the use of Amazon’s new CDN service by Mike Culver.  Mike makes a good point that CDNs are a pain many times, because of the sales channel.  As part of the bad economic times it will be interesting what the long term effects are to sales processes.

Content Delivery Service Flying High

Airbus 380 out of HeathrowIt’s fun to look at buzz and activity right after a new Amazon Web Service gets launched – in this case the service I’m thinking about is Amazon CloudFront, which is our new Content Delivery Service. Jeff Barr blogged about CloudFront’s features and benefits when the service launched last week.

What prompted this particular blog post was a Twitter message (“tweet”) that Jeff saw and forwarded to me. “Thanks to Amazon CloudFront, small websites can take advantage of a CDN. I don't think will spend $10 ‘til November 30.” The post was about, which is an aircraft enthusiasts’ site. (I’m a pilot, so Jeff knew that I’d be interested.)

That is indeed amazing! Until Amazon CloudFront came along, setting up content distribution was a real pain, in my opinion. You had to contact the service provider, do the whole “sales cycle” dance, and then wonder if in fact your prices were market price, or whether you signed up to pay a premium. The AWS approach is very egalitarian, and while I am certain that sales folks are nice people, it’s not a scalable approach for the vendor and the fact of the matter is that many technical folks don’t want to put a process between them and deployment.

Joining the Amazon Web Services effort is Mathematica.

Wolfram Research announced last week that they will be embracing the Cloud and providing a "Cloud Computing Service" with help ofNimbis Services, Inc

The Mathematica cloud computing service will provide flexible and scalable access to HPC from within Mathematica, simplifying the transition from desktop technical computing to HPC. "The two largest challenges in using HPC are programming the HPC application itself and ensuring that you can get enough computing power to do the job," says Tom Wickham-Jones, Wolfram Research Executive Director of Kernel Technology. "Mathematica answers the programming challenge by providing an integrated technical computing platform, enabling computation, visualization, and data access. Cloud computing offers consistent access to large-scale computing capabilities.

A Screenshot from recent demonstration at SC08:


And MatLab as well.


Mathworks released a whitepaper on how to run MATLAB parallel computing products -Parallel Computing Toolbox and MATLAB Distributed Computing Server on Amazon EC2. This step by step guide walks you through the steps of installation, configuration and setting up clustered environments using these licensed products from MathWorks on Amazon EC2. It shows how you can create an AMI with MATLAB products bundled in and run them in the cloud.

Whitepaper is available free on Mathworks website:

MATLAB users will learn about the key aspects of using the EC2 service from their desktop MATLAB session and using Parallel Computing Toolbox to send parallel MATLAB computations to the EC2 service.

System administrators will learn the key technical details required for setting up MATLAB Distributed Computing Server on the EC2 service, including licensing and network setup. They will also learn how to configure their users’ desktops to enable the use of the EC2 service for MATLAB computations.

What do all of these have in common.  They are all easier to get started than if users had gone to their own IT department.  So, AWS are cheaper and easier to use.

I am very excited because this is going to open up powerful MATLAB tools to any developer for not only research but also production applications. Students might be able to do their lab exercises without a lab and impress their professors by turning in the assignments before time. Professors will be able to teach courses using MATLAB by "turning on" a switch that creates their "Instant Labs" for the duration of the course without even contacting the College IT department for resources. Enteprises might be able to crunch the complex BI data over the weekend for a monday morning meeting.

Amazon is probably one of the only data center operators who is growing faster than expected while others are slowing down.