Amazon Elastic MapReduce is an IaaS platform and is capable of processing vast amounts of data on the cloud. It can do data processing with data sitting on different machines distributed across the cloud. It is based on the underlying technology of Hadoop and Hadoop Distributed File System for doing distributed data processing. It is comparatively cheaper than setting up your own distributed hardware platform. It is designed to grow up or scale down as per the requirement of the task, and all this is done automatically, without any manual intervention. No IT infrastructure management work is required as everything is over the cloud and managed by the service provider.
Room for Improvement:
The web interface for managing all your cloud services is a bit patchy and needs improvement. The way the services and features are intermingled is quite difficult for a new user to get acquainted with. This requires a decent amount of time investment for learning the initial basics. Setting up map reduce tasks for financial analysis, file analysis is very difficult unlike other tasks like data mining etc.
Overall a good cloud infrastructure and takes the burden of managing the distributed hardware and can easily scale up and scale down as per the requirement of the task at hand. Very efficient in number crunching tasks using the map reduce technology as the tasks are distributed across multiple machines spread across the network. The web interface for managing cloud instances is a bit difficult to understand particularly for beginners and needs further improvement keeping in mind the ease of use for end users.