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Amazon buffs free platform cloud

Shines up interface and adds VPC support

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Amazon has gussied up its Elastic Beanstalk service by polishing the web GUI as it puts pressure on other platform clouds built atop its platform.

The upgrades to Elastic Beanstalk were announced on Wednesday, and see Amazon bring a new user interface into the fiddly management console, and make it possible to run EB instances inside a virtual private cloud environment.

Elastic Beanstalk is a free platform cloud that lives within AWS and handles the deployment, provisioning, load-balancing, auto-scaling, and health monitoring of applications. Since launching in 2011 with support for Java and Apache Tomcat, the service has grown to embrace a multitude of programming languages, including Node.js, PHP, Python, Ruby, and most recently .NET. It competes with platforms from Google (App Engine) and Microsoft (Azure), along with other AWS-hosted apps.

The new console takes in CloudWatch app performance metrics, and allows administrators to set up alerts if traffic exceeds certain predefined thresholds. It has received a facelift that makes it easier to spin up and modify instances through a web-based GUI, though we'd note that most AWS pros are more likely to spend time at the command line than in a browser.

Administrators can now run Elastic Beanstalk instances within Amazon's Virtual Private Cloud environment, following a broader integration of the VPC technology into many of AWS's products as the company tries to sell enterprises on the network isolation gained with VPC.

Admins can also run Elastic Beanstalk in a new environment that limits the underlying resources to a single Amazon instance – useful, Amazon says, for running apps in a test or development environment on the cheap.

Though the changes are iterative, they demonstrate AWS's continued commitment to its platform-as-a-service environment, and should remind companies that sit on top of AWS – Heroku, Engine Yard, and others – that although they offer a standalone product, Amazon continues to put pressure on them. ®

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