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Amazon Launches Cloud-Based Macs

image credit: AWS

published by Chand Bellur
December 1, 2020 at 8:50 p.m.


  • Amazon’s new EC2 Mac Instances service offers a virtual, cloud-based Mac Mini.
  • Instead of purchasing a Mac Mini, users can access one from any device, using Amazon’s EC2 Console.
  • With cloud-based computing, Amazon can sell limited access to virtual Macs, providing flexible pricing for customers.
  • Amazon handles hardware setup and maintenance of numerous Mac Minis, freeing developers and data center operators to focus on more critical tasks.

Amazon Now Offering EC2 Mac Instances

Cloud-based computing has come a long way. Although casual computer users will still go for their own Mac or PC, developers can now opt for virtual computers hosted on distant servers.

Physical computers are often a hardship for software developers. If you’re working on a Mac or PC and it breaks, it takes time and effort to move your work elsewhere. Savvy developers can quickly push development environment images to a new machine. Still, someone has to buy the new computer, unbox it, set it up, and keep it safe and maintained.

Cloud-based development and build environments eliminate the computer as most people understand it. Instead of being on one’s desk, it’s in a data center, perhaps far away from the end-user. Users lease a machine, accessing it from just about any device.

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Amazon has long supported Linux and Windows instances. Today, the retail and computing giant launched EC2 Mac Instances. Developers and data center engineers can now lease virtual Mac Minis, eliminating the need to maintain and host the devices themselves.

Benefits of EC2 Mac Instances

Cloud computing reduces maintenance and operating costs, providing more time for developers to work on coding. It also empowers software companies to quickly set up development, QA, staging, and production environments without unboxing an actual computer.

Setting up an in-office data center proves challenging for small-to-mid-sized companies. Handling peak traffic demands and unexpected surges requires scaling up hardware to serve potentially millions of users. With cloud-based computing, server capacity can expand dynamically with peaks and shrink during lulls. The contracting company only pays for the service instead of a room full of mostly underutilized machines and utility bills.

Building and maintaining a small in-office network is no simple task. Cloud-based computing removes this burden, requiring only a simple network connection to access hosted computers. Amazon is responsible for network security, performance, and reliability. Most small and medium-sized businesses can’t beat Amazon on cost and quality.

EC2 Mac Instances offer remarkably flexible options. You can lease an actual Mac Mini, with access to the lowest hardware levels — an option branded as the AWS Nitro System. Most developers will opt for a virtual, shared instance used to compile code. Customers can rent a virtual Mac Mini on demand, pay for off-peak compute time, or opt for various other pricing options. 

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Other Cloud-Based Mac Providers

Amazon is a late-comer to the Mac cloud business. Competitors like Macincloud, Flow, Virtual Mac OS X, and others offered cloud-based Macs years before Amazon. The difference is Amazon’s reputation; however, some smaller providers may offer more personal customer support or greater flexibility.

Amazon’s EC2 Mac Instances is for geeks. These virtual Macs (and pretty much all virtual Macs) are not for lay computer users. Some cloud-based Mac providers offer services that casual computer users with intermediate skills could use. For example, an office worker who needs macOS for specific tasks could fare well with Macincloud.

Amazon’s entrance into the field will disrupt established competitors offering cloud-based Macs. Its reputation for running a fast and reliable data center and rock bottom pricing are difficult to beat.



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