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AWS to retire EC2-Classic – the network glue that helped start the IaaS rush

You've got a year to sort yourself out if you're still using it for some reason

Comment Amazon Web Services has announced the retirement of EC2-Classic, which once underpinned its third cloud service: the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

EC2-Classic is an environment in which EC2 instances run "in a single, flat network that you share with other customers," as Amazon put it.

However, as AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr reminded us this week, EC2-Classic was superseded in 2009 by Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, then again by Virtual Private Clouds for Everyone in 2013. These virtual private clouds logically isolate your instances from other customers.

According to Barr, customers who signed up with AWS since December 2013 couldn't use EC2-Classic unless they specifically requested it. The bulk of AWS customers will not, therefore, be inconvenienced by the service's retirement. Those who do use the service need to be on their toes, because AWS has set a deadline of August 15, 2022 – after which it expects there to be "no remaining EC2-Classic resources present in any AWS account," and all migrations to something else will be complete.

As a reminder, on October 31, 2021, AWS will disable EC2-Classic for accounts that don't use the service, and stop selling reserved instances for the network environment. Barr writes that AWS will work with customers to make those migrations as easy as can be.

"We don't plan to disrupt any workloads and will do our best to help you to meet these dates," Barr said.

The AWS man also reminisced about how EC2-Classic helped EC2 to become a big hit, fast. "We helped Animoto to scale to a then-amazing 3,400 instances when their Facebook app went viral," he wrote.

AWS has scaled things rather higher since: in 40th place on the June 2021 update to the Top 500 list of Earth's mightiest supercomputers was a 172,692-core machine that ran for just 24 minutes in the Amazonian cloud.

EC2 was AWS's third service. It debuted, with its EC2-Classic network environment, in 2006 months after the debut of the Simple Storage Service and the earlier arrival of Simple Queue Service.

That all three sparked a vast and important change in business computing is not in dispute. Service providers had previously rented remotely-located compute and storage, but AWS made them more accessible and scalable than predecessors. AWS prices were also shockingly low – in a good way – and its services took off.

The Register cannot think of an enterprise computing product or vendor that has not been influenced by AWS and EC2, and what EC2-Classic made possible. Makers of on-prem IT have all striven to become more cloud-like ever since EC2 and EC2-Classic debuted – both in terms of the user experience and by charging for consumption rather than up-front. Whole new software development and deployment practices have emerged to take advantage of elastic resources sold as-a-service.

EC2-Classic has also left a cultural footprint, as the likes of Netflix realized that cloud computing offered previously unavailable possibilities.

AWS brings in more than $50bn of annual revenue, and is widely regarded as the dominant force in cloud computing.

Barr's post states that AWS will give EC2-Classic "a gold watch and a well-deserved sendoff!"

The service deserves that, and more. ®

Editor's note: This article was revised after publication to clarify the use of EC2-Classic and its relationship with other Amazon services.

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