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The End of an Era: AWS Retires EC2-Classic After Nearly 17 Years

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In a significant milestone for Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company has fulfilled its 2021 commitment by retiring EC2-Classic, a foundational component of its initial compute infrastructure-as-a-service. AWS CTO Werner Vogels shared this momentous development on his personal blog, marking the closure of a nearly 17-year chapter in the company’s history.

When AWS introduced Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) in 2006, it embarked on an ambitious journey, establishing a single network infrastructure with the address range of 10.0.0.0/8. In those early days, all instances operated on a unified, flat network, shared among multiple customers. The sole EC2 instance type available in 2006 was the m1.small, offering a virtual CPU equivalent to a 1.7GHz Xeon processor, 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk storage, and network bandwidth capped at 250Mb/second.

Firing up one of these instances provided access to a limited set of features, such as security groups and public IP addresses assigned upon instance provisioning. Despite its seemingly straightforward user experience, Vogels acknowledges that EC2-Classic underpinned a complex infrastructure behind the scenes, simplifying the process of acquiring compute resources.

Legacy tech can often leave a profound cultural impact, as observed with EC2-Classic. Companies like Netflix and many others built their foundations on this infrastructure-as-a-service platform. However, in the rapidly evolving realm of AWS, legacy technologies inevitably make way for progress.

Vogels’s blog post not only commemorates the retirement of EC2-Classic but also highlights AWS’s commitment to its customers during this transition. AWS ensured that EC2-Classic remained operational until every instance had either been shut down or migrated. The company provided comprehensive documentation, tools, and unwavering support from engineering and account management teams throughout the retirement process.

The retirement process of EC2-Classic spanned just over two years, an impressively swift pace for a technology transition of this magnitude.

Conclusion

The retirement of EC2-Classic signifies the end of an era for AWS, symbolizing its commitment to evolving and adapting to meet the changing needs of its customers. Over the past 17 years, AWS has transformed its compute-as-a-service offering, with instances like the P3dn.24xlarge now delivering 100Gb/sec of network throughput, 96 vCPUs, 8 Nvidia v100 Tensor Core GPUs with 32GiB of memory each, 768GiB of total systems memory, and 1.8TB of local SSD storage. Networking is now seamlessly managed by the AWS Nitro system, streamlining communications and security tasks through SmartNIC technology.

As Vogels reflects on bidding farewell to one of AWS’s original offerings, he underscores the importance of building adaptable systems and revisiting architectural choices with an open mind—a testament to AWS’s ongoing commitment to innovation and excellence in cloud computing.

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