Cloud services for statisticians, part II
On July 21st 2010, I blogged about cloud services that could be useful for stat’ researchers. Among a few services I mentioned Dropbox, a free sync software from a startup that is apparently doing quite well, and saved my life two weeks ago when my laptop died.
I also mentioned monkeyanalytics.com, a cloud service to perform statistical and data analysis online. It wasn’t free but it allowed to do statistical computations on a remote server, store the results, access them from anywhere, etc. This website is dead now, so I guess they’re either working on it before opening it again, or they didn’t make enough money to survive… sorry for them! Their idea was neat and probably someone will be able to make money out of it.
In fact this someone might already exist. Amazon proposes a cloud computing service called Amazon Elastic Computer Cloud (Amazon EC2). For this cloud computing service you can pay either by the hour or take a year plan. Once you’ve registered, you seem to be allowed to remotely start the operating system that you want with already installed scientific software. For instance, this guy explains how to setup R on Amazon EC2.
This service seems to be particularly easy to use with StarDev Cluster. It’s a free program made with python, to which you give your Amazon credentials and that sets up a cluster on Amazon EC2, running Ubuntu, python, numpy and the appropriate packages to perform parallel computation (namely openMPI). Since the fee by the hour starts at 0.17$ for a “medium – High-CPU instance”, I’m tempted to give it a try.
Update: following a comment, let’s make a little advertisement for Project Dirigible, another cloud service that could be useful for statisticians. It looks like an online spreadsheet like Google Docs, only you can use python / numpy programs to compute the values in the cells, using Amazon servers. So suppose you want to do a cool Java applet to show how well your method works but the method involves a lot of computations, that looks like the way to go. Check out their introductory video. Thanks Giles, very interesting!