Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Amazon EC2’s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use. Amazon EC2 provides developers the tools to build failure resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.

Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously. Of course, because this is all controlled with web service APIs, your application can automatically scale itself up and down depending on its needs.

You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine. You can stop your instance while retaining the data on your boot partition and then subsequently restart the same instance using web service APIs. Instances can be rebooted remotely using web service APIs. You also have access to console output of your instances.

You have the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. Amazon EC2 allows you to select a configuration of memory, CPU, instance storage, and the boot partition size that is optimal for your choice of operating system and application. For example, your choice of operating systems includes numerous Linux distributions, and Microsoft Windows Server.

Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) to provide a complete solution for computing, query processing and storage across a wide range of applications.

Amazon EC2 offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly and predictably commissioned. The service runs within Amazon’s proven network infrastructure and datacenters.

Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with Amazon VPC to provide security and robust networking functionality for your compute resources. Your compute instances are located in a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) with an IP range that you specify. You decide which instances are exposed to the Internet and which remain private.

  • Security Groups and networks ACLs allow you to control inbound and outbound network access to and from your instances.
  • You can provision your EC2 resources as Dedicated Instances. Dedicated Instances are Amazon EC2 Instances that run on hardware dedicated to a single customer for additional isolation.
  • If you do not have a default VPC you must create a VPC and launch instances into that VPC to leverage advanced networking features such as private subnets, outbound security group filtering, network ACLs and Dedicated Instances.

Amazon EC2 passes on to you the financial benefits of Amazon’s scale. You pay a very low rate for the compute capacity you actually consume.

  • On-Demand Instances – On-Demand Instances let you pay for compute capacity by the hour with no long-term commitments. This frees you from the costs and complexities of planning, purchasing, and maintaining hardware and transforms what are commonly large fixed costs into much smaller variable costs. On-Demand Instances also remove the need to buy “safety net” capacity to handle periodic traffic spikes.
  • Reserved Instances – Reserved Instances provide you with a significant discount compared to On-Demand Instance pricing. There are three Reserved Instance payment options (No Upfront, Partial Upfront, All Upfront) that enable you to balance the amount you pay upfront with your effective hourly price.
  • Spot Instances -  Spot instances allow you to bid on spare Amazon EC2 computing capacity. Since Spot instances are often available at a discount compared to On-Demand pricing, you can significantly reduce the cost of running your applications, grow your application’s compute capacity and throughput for the same budget, and enable new types of cloud computing applications.

Quickly get started with Amazon EC2 by visiting the AWS Management Console to choose preconfigured software on Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). You can quickly deploy this software to EC2 via the EC2 console.


Your use of this service is subject to the AWS Customer Agreement.