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Amazon ElastiCache takes Memcached to the cloud

Amazon has bolstered its cloud services offering with the addition of a Memcached-compatible in-memory caching service it calls - in its tradition of somewhat grating names for Web Services products - ElastiCache.

Currently in beta form, ElastiCache is designed host objects in memory, rather than on disk, resulting in a dramatic boost in performance for queries that need to load such objects.

While other solutions - such as Memcached itself - require complex configuration, Amazon claims that a collection of Cache Nodes running a pre-configure Memcached instance can be created in a matter of clicks, with uptime assured thanks to a system which detects and replaced failed nodes. The amount of memory used can also be scaled, providing you're willing to pay for additional nodes.

The nodes themselves run a custom Memcached installation, making them compatible with any client application, code, or tool that supports Memcached without modification.

Perhaps the greatest feature of ElastiCache for AWS customers is the compatibility with Amazon's other services: the company claims that it ties in nicely to the Relational Database Service, Elastic Compute Cloud, CloudWatch, and Simple Notificatio Service, speeding up applications running on each with little modification required on a user's part.

Pricing is variable, and based on an hourly rate. Pricing starts at $0.095 per hour for a cache node with 1.3GB of memory and one virtual processing core with a single compute unit, rising to $0.76 per hour for an extra-large cache node with 14.6GB of memory and four virtual processing cores with two compute units each. High-Memory - up 68GB - and high-CPU - eight cores with 2.5 compute units each - nodes are also available.

Currently, the service is only available from Amazon's Virginia data centre, meaning those outside the US East region can expect higher latency than usual if they choose to use ElastiCache. Amazon has confirmed plans to roll the service out to its other data centres in the coming months, but won't be pressed on a more precise time scale.

While ElastiCache is an impressive service, it will do little to calm user's fears following the impressive outage that left customers using Amazon's European data centre in Dublin disconnected following a lightning strike, and represents yet another instance of cloud reliance that could come to bite a company in the proverbial in the future.

More details are available over on Amazon's ElastiCache page.