Amazon Web Services Launches Cloud Workflow Service
Amazon Web Services, the web services arm of Amazon.com, is extending its reach to workflow management with the launch of Amazon Simple Workflow Service (SWF), targeted at coordinating processing steps in an application and managing the distributed execution state.
“Whether automating business processes for finance or insurance applications, building sophisticated data analytics applications, or managing cloud infrastructure services, Amazon SWF reliably coordinates all of the processing steps within an application,” Amazon’s official blog entry says.
Distilling the Amazon SWF fact sheet down to the basics, AWS is built to enable administrators to track an application state across distributed components, enabling the relatively easy implementation of complex application flows without the need to learn a new programming language (or so Amazon promises). It also includes the AWS Flow Framework, designed to help developers build event-driven and asynchronous programs aspects directly into applications.
The end-goal is total control over when and how application tasks are scheduled and executed. Amazon.com CTO and Amazon Web Services czar Werner Vogels goes into much deeper detail on Amazon SWF’s technical vision in a blog entry, for those who want a deeper dive.
Amazon includes 1,000 workflow executions, 10,000 “tasks, timers, signals, and markers” and 30,000 workflow-days (a workflow-day is the 24 hour period an execution is left open or retained in Amazon SWF) in the free Amazon Web Services usage tier. After that, the per-usage cost works out to be $0.10 per 1,000 workflow execution starts, $0.05 per 10,000 workflow executions completed and $0.05 per 10,000 retained workflow executions, with $0.25 per 10,000 tasks/timers/etc.
Frankly — and I’m sure my inbox will fill up with vendors claiming the contrary as soon as this story goes live — this sounds unlike any other application management solution I’ve come across yet. Amazon Web Services certainly has its detractors, but the fact of the matter is that its sheer scale puts it in a very good position to keep maturing its platform, sometimes with new solutions that developers didn’t even know they wanted.