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According to a report from research firm DeepField Networks, Amazon's AWS cloud now powers 1% of the internet. If this number is anywhere close to accurate, it's a stunning figure, particularly when one considers that Amazon started as an online retailer of books.

But Amazon's cloud ambitions are huge, and in an effort to grow its cloud even more, Amazon today launched the AWS Marketplace, a one-stop shop for AWS customers to, with a single click, purchase and deploy cloud servers running the software they need.

The goal: "[make] it easy for customers to find, compare, and immediately start using the software and technical services they need to build products and run their businesses." Software providers include giants like IBM, Microsoft and SAP, as well as upstarts like 10gen and Couchbase. Through the AWS Marketplace, AWS users can easily provision EC2 servers running various types of software. This includes individual databases and applications, but also entire application stacks.

"AWS Marketplace makes it even easier to run software on AWS because you can find a wide variety of AWS ecosystem providers' solutions, in one place, where much of the work involved in building and deploying solutions on top of AWS has already been done for you by these solutions providers," Terry Hanold, VP of New Business Initiatives for AWS, stated in a press release.

As with all Amazon AWS servers, customers pay only for what they use on an hourly basis, although some software available through the AWS Marketplace has a base monthly charge. Some prices are all-inclusive (they include the fee for the software as well as the EC2 instance itself), while others break out the cost of the software separately.

Not surprisingly, in an effort to make the AWS Marketplace more appealing to AWS customers, Amazon is trying to attract software vendors to the AWS Marketplace, something that probably won't be all that difficult. One Accenture analyst recently estimated that there are some 445,000 servers in Amazon's AWS datacenters, making Amazon's cloud a juicy target for software vendors looking to hawk their wares.

Of course, this doesn't mean that there won't be challenges. For Amazon and its customers, the ever-increasing breadth and depth of AWS could be a double-edged sword, as that breadth and depth could very well be overwhelming to some organizations considering the cloud. For some software vendors, the Amazon Marketplace creates a barrier between them and their customers. That creates some pragmatic issues around customer support, for instance, but it also raises some major strategic concerns. After all, for many software vendors, a direct relationship is crucial to closing a sale, making sure the customer is satisfied and establishing some level of loyalty.

With this in mind, if Amazon's history with book publishers is any indication, the AWS Marketplace could prove to be a boon for Amazon but a disappointment for at least some software vendors.

Patricio Robles

Published 19 April, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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