Why, I can remember like it was, well... almost a decade ago when I first saw a hosting vendor get into the business of support MySQL databases.
The first vendor I remember? Rackspace. Why? Because way back when, they were the main sponsor for the second OpenSource Database Conference.
Looking through the options that Amazon provides, they do look pretty sharp. Database backups can be a pain, and providing snapshot based ones is an excellent idea. There was some talk of snapshotting when I was at the MySQL User Group this week talking about Drizze. The general consensus was that this was the superior way to do backups.
The other backup methods, like using a physical backup tool, certainly work (Innodb has sold one for years, and Percona has one that they provide). If logical backups are your thing you can always use mysqldump with Innodb to do an online backup (If you look through past blogs you can see how I use it and the distributed revision control system Mercurial to backup my databases and provide point in time recovery/selective restores).
Backup services to S3 are not new at all. Zmanda started to provide a product for backing it up years ago. Googling on "S3 mysql backup", I found several links for HOWTO to do it.
Looking at the API, I believe native driver support is available. I would be curious to find out if they are supporting just the ASCII protocol, or if they have enabled the binary one as well (which is an awesome way of crashing your database). I am going to assume these databases are all in a self contained instance. If not? Should be simple enough to crash you and your neighbor. It would be interesting to find out how many changes they had to make to the database (or still have to make... all of this reminds me that they were heavily recruiting at the MySQL User's Conference last year). It was pretty obvious back then that they were going to work on this service. There is no mention of SSL support. The SSL stuff built into MySQL would be a pain to make work, but I suspect they could with some hacking.
I wonder if libdrizzle's mysql bits will work? I suspect we will have to try that out. If so, anyone need sharding in their driver?
BTW if you follow their "use mysqldump" model for pushing data into the service, remember that --single-transaction will allow you to do a hot backup. There is no need to lock up your current database. I am still appalled at how few people know that. Years ago we should have renamed "mysqldump" to "mysqlbackup" and defaulted the settings for Innodb. Outside of licensing, I suspect "how to backup" my database was the most often requested question.
Oh, that and "are you worried now that Oracle has acquired Innodb?"
Renaming our dump tool to backup would have made for pretty slick marketing :)
Amazon's sizing numbers look good. They have hit the sweet spot for most users.
Monitoring is nice, but also, not that hard. If you have everything already in AWS I can see where the "one stop shopping" would be nice (or is that one-click?).
There is more you can find in an article by Jeff. Rightscale has an article up as well.
I'm really curious to find out what they have disabled in 5.1, I have a hard time believing they can support all of its features. Coming up with an upgrade path should be interesting to watch. I've seen no sign of any patches coming back from them, so I would assume they have rolled their own. This means either they will be on 5.1 for a long time, or will be spending a lot of engineering time maintaining their own version. (Most of the bigger MySQL shops do, so it is not all that surprising.) The number of folks on the planet that can really maintain custom versions well is pretty small. I don't believe Amazon has any of them on staff. I am sure though that they can find people who can figure it out.
I have seen mixed results when companies keep their own custom versions of MySQL. It can be pretty easy to code yourself into a corner when you don't play an active part in the community. 5.1 should provide many years worth of use for them though.
Kudos to Amazon. Having them run a database service won't provide the "high end" sort of usage that keeps the folks who tune databases in business, but there certainly are a lot of users for whom this type of service will work just fine.
At the very least this service will certainly up the ante for others in the MySQL hosting business.
Providing services like RDS and application is the future for cloud companies. It will be interesting to see what they will come up with next.
I'm surprised Memcached hasn't been done as a service yet, but perhaps that is why I have those SASL patches sitting in my inbox.
We still have a little while before Gearman will be announced :)