AWS outgrows its own resource numbering scheme

Seventeen-character identifiers mean cloud can scale for 'new AWS regions launching in 2016'


Amazon Web Services has extended its resource numbering scheme, after last year warning that without a new scheme it would “start to run low on IDs for certain EC2 and EBS resources within a year or so.”

Every AWS resource gets a unique identifier. For most of the service's history those were eight characters in length. But the outfit has now clearly reached a size at which it's outgrown its own scheme, hence the shift from eight-character identifiers to a new seventeen-character arrangement.

AWS already flicked the switch to optional longer resource identifiers for its EC2 servers-for-rent service back in March 2016. Now it's done the same thing for the elastic block storage (EBS) service and its storage gateways.

Your correspondent lacks the mathematical skill to figure out the combinations afforded by the lower-case letters and numbers 0 to 9 that Amazon allows as part of an identifier. One combinatorial calculator spat out the answer of 2.865118×1026 when we fed it 36 variables, output of 17 characters and permitted repetition. AWS is preparing a truly colossal number of individual resource numbers.

Now multiply that by each Amazon offering – because resource identifiers start with characters denoting the name of the service – and it's plain that the service is planning to scale a long, long way up.

For now, the longer identifiers are optional, but by year's end AWS will insist on them. Adopting the new and longer numbers shouldn't break anything.

But AWS says new numbers will let it do things like serve “new AWS regions launching later in 2016”. Where might they be? We know the company has India in its sights. ®

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