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Amazon Web Services this morning made a new pitch for running web apps on its cloud computing platform, introducing a feature called ElastiCache that promises to improve the performance of web apps such as social networks, games and media-sharing sites.

In basic terms, the system uses server infrastructure more efficiently to help web apps keep key bits of data in memory, for faster access than retrieving them from a disk-based database.

See the Amazon Web Services blog for all the under-the-hood details.

ElastiCache “answers one of the most highly requested functionalities of AWS customers by providing a managed, flexible and resilient caching service in the cloud,” says Raju Gulabani, Amazon’s VP of data services, in the news release announcing the service.

Random factoid: ElastiCache uses the Memcached protocol, developed in 2003 for LiveJournal by the social network’s founder, University of Washington computer science alum Brad Fitzpatrick.

Amazon competes with companies including Microsoft and Google in this area of cloud computing — offering services that let other businesses run programs in remote data centers without maintaining and managing the infrastructure themselves.

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