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Amazon Stretches Cloud Across the Pond

Amazon.com is extending is Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to Europe, providing developers there with the same computing capabilities it says 440,000 U.S. developers now use -- although only for Linux and Unix.

The company said EC2, which enables developers to create, launch and add online cloud computing server instances via a Web interface, will begin providing support for Windows Server and SQL Server for Europe in the near future. Windows support made it into EC2 for Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) U.S. users in late October.

Expanding the service to additional areas aims to give developers the option to serve their apps geographically closer to other resources. The European EC2 service will include two local zones from which developers can pick.

"Extending Amazon EC2 to the European Union has been a top request of developers in Europe so we believe there is great potential," Kay Kinton, a spokesperson for Amazon Web Services (AWS), told InternetNews.com. "AWS customers worldwide who need, or want, a European presence will be able to use AWS in a much more pervasive way."

The expansion comes as cloud computing vendors seek to cash in on efforts by IT to streamline computing costs amid a dismal global economic environment. While enterprises look to cut spending, cloud computing options are seen as becoming more appealing due to their low price point and high scalability.

Aside from the restrictions on OS availability, the European version offers the same features U.S.-based developers use, including elastic IP addresses.

And as in the U.S. European pricing is based on computing use per hour and bandwidth.

Available options start at the default "small" instance, which includes a 32-bit platform with 1.7 GB of memory, 160 GB of storage and one virtual core running a single "EC2 Compute unit," currently equivalent to a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor, according to Amazon.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, an extra-large server instance contains a 64-bit platform with 15 GB of memory, 4 virtual cores offering 2 EC2 Compute Units each. The extra-large option also includes 1690GB of storage.

Costs for standard CPU usage begin at 11 cents per instance per hour, and increase to 88 cents for extra-large instances. Prices are higher for high-CPU instances, ranging from $0.20 per hour for "medium" servers to $0.80 per hour for extra large.

Data transfer rates per month are 10 per GB for all transfers into the system. For data transfer out, costs range from 17 cents per GB for the first terabyte, to 10 cents per GB for data loads over 150 TB.