AWS shuts down its first-gen compute and network infrastructure

The legacy lives on even though EC2-Classic and its flat network are no more

Amazon Web Services has made good on its 2021 promise to retire EC2-Classic – the networking construct that underpinned its initial compute infrastructure-as-a-service offering.

Chief technology officer Werner Vogels used his personal blog to reveal that the last EC2-Classic instance was shut down on August 15, marking the end of a near-17-year run.

"When we launched [Elastic Compute Cloud] EC2 in 2006, it was one giant network of All instances ran on a single, flat network shared with other customers," Vogels wrote, adding that the sole EC2 instance type offered in 2006 was the m1.small, which offered "a virtual CPU the equivalent of a 1.7GHz Xeon processor with 1.75GB of RAM, 160GB of local disk, and 250Mb/second of network bandwidth."

Firing up one of those instances "exposed a handful of features, like security groups and Public IP addresses that were assigned when an instance was spun up."

Vogels reckons EC2-Classic "made the process of acquiring compute dead simple, even though the stack running behind the scenes was incredibly complex."

As The Register wrote when covering AWS's retirement announcement, EC2-Classic may be legacy tech, but it has created a cultural legacy. The likes of Netflix and many more since based their businesses on infrastructure-as-a-service.

But in AWS's world, legacy tech doesn't last long.

Vogels's post celebrates the fact that AWS kept EC2-Classic alive "until every instance was shut down or migrated. Providing documentation, tools, and support from engineering and account management teams throughout the process."

The process of retiring EC2-Classic consumed just over two years. Many older techs persist far longer.

Vogels points out that in the 17 years since EC2-Classic debuted, AWS has scaled its compute-as-a-service offering to the point at which the P3dn.24xlarge instance type offers 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 handled by the AWS Nitro system, which offloads comms and security chores into a SmartNIC.

"It's bittersweet to say goodbye to one of our original offerings," Vogels wrote. "It's a reminder that building evolvable systems is a strategy, and revisiting your architectures with an open mind is a must."

"So, farewell Classic," he concluded, "it's been swell. Long live EC2. ®

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