AWS now offers Mac mini in the cloud

AWS has become the latest enterprise player in the Mac space, offering up Mac minis in the cloud to developers seeking cloud-based infrastructure.

The times, they are a-changing

Amazon's "Mac mini as a service" is available now, reflecting Apple's continued growth in enterprise computing. It marks the first time AWS has offered to run macOS on demand in the cloud and can be scaled, accessed on a pay-as-you-go basis and lets developers access dozens of additional AWS services.

These Mac instances can be used to build, test, package, and sign Xcode applications for the Apple platform including macOS, iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, watchOS, and Safari.  The service aims to "speed up the dev lifecycle' for apps developers on Apple's platforms.

Why is Amazon doing this?

What's important is that the service means developers are gaining cloud-based access to a full Mac mini, which should help them to build and test their software. The Macs can be used to build render and CI/CD farms for Apple environments, and to consolidate development of cross-platform Apple, Windows, and Android apps onto AWS to help speed new software to market.

Amazon explains:

Amazon will make macOS Big Sur support available at some point. You can access the Mac(s) using both SSH and VNC for remote desktop use.

Here's a somewhat amusing video Amazon made around the new service.

M1 Macs will be available on AWS next year

The new Macs are based on Intel i7 processors, rather than the powerful M1 Apple now puts inside the Mac mini. Amazon says it will install M1 Mac minis in its data centers early next year. It thinks demand for Intel-based Macs will remain for as long as those Macs are in use.

The AWS Macs hold 32GB memory and are connected to Amazon's Nitro system.

The company says it will make new AMIs available each time Apple updates its OS. The cost is $1.083 per hour, billed by the second, which is around $26/day.

What customers think

Intuit, Ring and FiLMiC are among the first customers to make use of the Mac mini-based AWS service.

Growing the market

Amazon's move to the Mac isn't unique. It enters a space already occupied by Macstadium, which has offered hosted Mac infrastructure for years, including some AWS integration. The company already offers M1 Mac minis to customers within its 20,000+ fleet.

Writing on Twitter following the news, MacStadium Vice President Brian Stucki said: "Obviously Amazon is a massive fish to enter the sea. Another part of me is very proud to see the Mac mini rise to this level. The platform and vision started so... mini 16-years ago."

The move reflects the scale of Apple's rapid growth in the enterprise market.

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