Until now I have not really looked in to the Amazon Clouds or to give it its proper name, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2 for short). But at the JISC Cetis meeting someone mentioned them again so I thought that I had really better take a look at what they are and how easy it would be to use. I could have just evaluated the EC2 from the developers point of view, but often the issue that we have with installations of WebPA are related to a single academic tutor wanting to use the system and not having access to a server or the knowlegde to install the system. So as a quick solution the EC2 looks like the right tool for the job.
Well that is on the surface at least. A further look and you suddenly become aware of how complex the system can become. When you first read the information about the EC2 it appears that you access the service set up and instance for you and off you go. However, on closer inspection, this webservice is really aimed at seasoned developers. Not only is the documentation at times confusing, but when you do find a very good tutorial on getting started (based on using a Mac) you soon realise that it is far to complex for the average Joe.
In light of this I would recommed that an experienced developer use the EC2, but I will have to look at something else to make life easier for a none technical potential user. This means that I will need to build a bundle of tools for the next release of the WebPA tool, similar to those used for Moodle.
One last point on the Amazon EC2, is that there is a cost. Its adoption into the Education arena particularly in the UK may be slow due to this and there are also other services available that may be more intune with the UK Education system such as eduserv.