There was a flurry of EC2 announcements from Amazon today including:

Perhaps most interesting is this pre-announcement of 2009 functionality, which will squarely put them in direct competition with many of the startups depending on them, such as RightScale and Ylastic.

This is really quite amazing to me. I was under the impression that Amazon would continue to foster more solution providers rather than attempt to move up the stack on their own, but this is clearly a first move in the general direction of providing solutions above and beyond the basics of servers and storage.

This is going to up the ante for up and coming cloud providers such as GoGrid and FlexiScale as well as decrease the value of solution providers such as RightScale. The pressure is now on to innovate quickly or be left behind.

Amazon’s ability to innovate quickly as a large business has been truly staggering. The only other large organization I’ve seen act this quickly is Apple.

Update: Be sure to check out the new Elastic Fox Getting Started Guide, which is clearly geared for a Windows user audience. New functionality in the Elastic Fox FireFox plugin includes one button click rebuilding of a running Windows instance into a new Windows AMI. This is another strong indication of Amazon’s commitment to make EC2 easier to use and creating an even larger threat to competitors. Historically this was a non-trivial and manual process when creating Linux AMIs. Expect this functionality to make it to Linux land as well.

Update 2: Thorsten provides more details on the Windows capabilities on the RightScale blog.