Amazon adds in-memory caching to its cloud

ElastiCache will help users speed up database performance

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched a public beta test of ElastiCache, which is designed to allow enterprises to speed up their Web applications, the company said on Monday.

The service improves the performance of Web applications by allowing them to retrieve information from "a fast, managed, in-memory caching system, instead of relying entirely on slower disk-based databases," Amazon said.

The advantages of ElastiCache are the same as other cloud-based services. Users don't have to worry about infrastructure provisioning, or installing and maintaining cache software.

It can help improve latency and throughput on social networking, gaming and media sharing sites, according to Amazon.

ElastiCache is based on Memcached -- an open source project used by websites such as Wikipedia, Flickr, Twitter and Youtube. The service allows users to create so-called Cache Clusters, each comprised of one or more Cache Nodes, in a matter of minutes. Each Cache Node has a fixed-size chunk of network-attached RAM, from 1.3GB to 68GB, according to Amazon.

Amazon allows users to run a maximum of 20 Cache Nodes. Enterprises that want more can fill in a request form.

ElastiCache costs between US$0.095 and $2.24 per hour. The price is based on the size of the Cache Nodes used. The service is currently available in the US East (Virginia) region, and will be available in other AWS Regions in the coming months, Amazon writes.

The AWS Management Console can be used to manage ElastiCache. In a blog post Amazon walks perspective users through the process of creating a cluster.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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