Amazon hooks into on-premise applications

Amazon has released the Amazon Simple Workflow Service, a technology that further blurs the distinction between public clouds and on-premise hardware.The technology, launched on Wednesday, lets developers automate and manage task workflows.

Amazon has released the Amazon Simple Workflow Service, a technology that further blurs the distinction between public clouds and on-premise hardware.

The technology, launched on Wednesday, lets developers automate and manage task workflows. Example tasks could be making sure a new employee's details are passed to a payroll system, or converting uploaded photos into other formats and providing confirmation messages to the user.

It works with Amazon's own cloud-based applications, but can also marshal on-premise equipment to complete tasks and talk to software.

"You can use Simple Workflow to handle many types of multi-stage operations including traditional business processes (handling an order or adding a new employee), setting up a complex multi-tiered application, or even handling the decision-making process for a multi-player online game," Amazon wrote in a blog post.

Simple Workflow is designed to ease the lives of developers who build applications that contain multiple, distributed components, Amazon's chief technology officer Werner Vogels wrote in a separate blog post.

"Today, to accomplish this, developers are forced to write complicated infrastructure that typically involves message queues and databases along with complex logic to synchronise them," Vogels wrote. With Simple Workflow, "developers have full control over implementing and orchestrating tasks, without worrying about underlying complexities such as tracking their progress and keeping their state."

This marks the second time in as many months that Amazon has launched a product straddling the wall between the Amazon Web Services infrastructure-as-a-service cloud and on-premise datacentres or equipment. In January it launched the AWS Storage Gateway beta, which lets companies replicate their on-premise data into the AWS cloud and back again.

Simple Workflow will compete with software packages from major IT vendors, such as Microsoft's yet-to-launch System Center Orchestrator, VMware's vCenter Orchestrator, and products from IBM.

Charges are levied according to a combination of used bandwidth and the complexity of the task being managed. An early customer includes Nasa, which uses the service to coordinate the image processing from the Mars rovers.

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