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Posts Tagged ‘aws’

Amazon EBS Failure Brings Down Reddit, Imgur, Others

October 22nd, 2012 10:02 admin View Comments

Cloud

Several readers have sent word of a significant Amazon EBS outage. Quoting: “Amazon Web Services has confirmed that its Elastic Block Storage (EBS) service is experiencing degraded service, leading sites across the Internet to experience downtime, including Reddit, Imgur and many others. AWS confirmed on its status page at 2:11 p.m. ET that it is experiencing ‘degraded performance for a small number of EBS volumes.’ It says the issue is restricted to a single Availability Zone within the US-East-1 Region, which is in Northern Virginia. AWS later reported that its Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and its Elastic Beanstalk application plaform also experienced failures on Monday afternoon.”

Source: Amazon EBS Failure Brings Down Reddit, Imgur, Others

Popping the Amazon Web Services Capacity Myth

April 26th, 2012 04:00 admin View Comments

Amazon’s primary claim to fame is online retail – beginning with books, remember? – and the company has been very effective at growing that side of its business. So effective, in fact, that it’s easy to mistake the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-based computing platform as little more than a way for Amazon to make use of excess computing capacity. That underestimates the resources that Amazon is putting into AWS, and the affect the company is having on the future of computing.

If that assumption were ever true, it’s now a long-obsolete concept. Amazon burned through its excess capacity very quickly. According to Andy Jassy, the guy who wrote the original business plan for AWS, “We’ve far exceeded the excess capacity of our internal system. That ship sailed 18 months ago.” That interview ran in Wired in April 2008, which means that Amazon had churned through its excess capacity by the end of 2006.

The excess capacity myth is something you hear in conversation occasionally, usually from folks who don’t follow cloud computing too closely. It probably has its roots in the early days of AWS, when Jeff Bezos himself said that AWS helps Amazon make use of under-utilized capacity. But that was just part of what Bezos had to say.

How Excess Capacity Led to AWS

What Amazon’s excess capacity really taught Amazon, says Bezos, wasn’t (just) that the company needed to use its own excess capacity. Instead, it taught the company that other companies have the same problem. Which meant that there was yet another market that Amazon could tap into, and it was already working on solving that problem for itself.

Werner Vogels, CTO at Amazon, addressed this on Quora some time ago:

At Amazon we had developed unique software and services based on more than a decade of infrastructure work for the evolution of the Amazon E-Commerce Platform. This was dedicated software and operation procedures that drove excellent performance, reliability, operational quality and security all at very large scale. At the same time we had seen that offering programmatic access to the Amazon Catalog and other ecommerce services was driving tremendous unexpected innovation by a very large developer ecosystem. The thinking then developed that offering Amazon’s expertise in ultra-scalable system software as primitive infrastructure building blocks delivered through a services interface could trigger whole new world of innovation as developers no longer needed to focus on buying, building and maintaining infrastructure.

All Evidence to the Contrary

Even if Amazon had kicked off AWS just to handle excess capacity, it’s clear that the service has far exceeded that role to become a big and important part of Amazon’s business.

Consider just some of the developments and expansions for AWS in the past few months:

None of these really address excess capacity, but all require an investment of developer time on Amazon’s part. If the company were looking only to let people tap into its excess capacity, it would not be spending quite so much time on developing new features.

Nor would the company need to be scaling out AWS quite so quickly. How quickly? According to a presentation from last year (PDF), Amazon adds “enough new capacity to support all of Amazon.com’s global infrastructure through the company’s first 5 years, when it was a $2.76B annual revenue enterprise” per day!

If anything, Amazon’s getting to the point of running its retail operation in the excess capacity of AWS, not the other way around.

Source: Popping the Amazon Web Services Capacity Myth

Inside Amazon’s AWS Marketplace: The Cloud in a Shopping Cart

April 19th, 2012 04:55 admin View Comments

Amazon is trumpeting the launch of its AWS Marketplace, but what does the storefront really offer that Amazon Web Services customers didn’t have before? While the Marketplace is another boost for AWS, it’s a lot less exciting than some folks are making it out to be.

If you’ve missed the hoopla over the marketplace, here’s the skinny: Amazon is putting all the Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) from vendors in a one-stop shop with pricing, reviews and a simple interface for finding the software you want. Basically, Amazon has taken a virtual application marketplace to a slightly higher level to let users pick virtual appliances and launch them on EC2.

The Good

Amazon is making it much easier for users to find AMIs that they might want to use. It’s very convenient to be able to search for, say, a AMI with Node.js pre-configured and be able to launch it right away. So if you’re in need of a single server instance of a specific application, the AWS Marketplace is pretty nifty. But it’s really more of a convenience store than a full-blown marketplace, at least right now.

You get a full description of the AMI, its customer rating (if it’s been rated, few have been so far), base OS and so forth. You see what level of support is included with the image (if any), and in some cases you also see the estimated monthly cost.

This puts Amazon a little bit ahead of other cloud providers, which don’t have a big “marketplace” of supported applications. It’s a good move for Amazon and companies like BitNami that want to provide support for applications, or that want to offer software at a premium above the EC2 instance cost. Billing is simplified, so customers just pay through Amazon and the partners get their money from Amazon.

Why It’s Underwhelming

This is all good, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go very far yet. Virtual appliances are nothing new. This makes it simpler to consume single-server applications, but still leaves a lot of configuration to the end users.

Consider, for instance, deploying Sharepoint with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). If you look at the whitepaper that Amazon published on this (PDF), the architecture is much less simple than a single EC2 image. If your needs go further than a single EC2 image, the marketplace (at least right now) has nothing for you.

What would be really impressive is to see CloudFormation templates that provide highly available applications or more complex applications using Amazon RDS, and so on. We suspect that will come down the pike eventually, but the marketplace as it stands right now doesn’t really tap the potential of AWS.

But it does plant a flag for Amazon, and gives the company yet another feature over the competition. While its competitors are still working on catching up to Amazon on features, Amazon is rallying partners to deliver services on its infrastructure.

Does Amazon have a big leg up with the AWS Marketplace? Are you more likely to use the AWS cloud thanks to the market? We would love to hear your thoughts about this in the comments.

(Image courtesy of Jonas M Luster via Flickr under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license.)

Source: Inside Amazon’s AWS Marketplace: The Cloud in a Shopping Cart

Inside Amazon’s AWS Marketplace: The Cloud in a Shopping Cart

April 19th, 2012 04:55 admin View Comments

Amazon is trumpeting the launch of its AWS Marketplace, but what does the storefront really offer that Amazon Web Services customers didn’t have before? While the Marketplace is another boost for AWS, it’s a lot less exciting than some folks are making it out to be.

If you’ve missed the hoopla over the marketplace, here’s the skinny: Amazon is putting all the Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) from vendors in a one-stop shop with pricing, reviews and a simple interface for finding the software you want. Basically, Amazon has taken a virtual application marketplace to a slightly higher level to let users pick virtual appliances and launch them on EC2.

The Good

Amazon is making it much easier for users to find AMIs that they might want to use. It’s very convenient to be able to search for, say, a AMI with Node.js pre-configured and be able to launch it right away. So if you’re in need of a single server instance of a specific application, the AWS Marketplace is pretty nifty. But it’s really more of a convenience store than a full-blown marketplace, at least right now.

You get a full description of the AMI, its customer rating (if it’s been rated, few have been so far), base OS and so forth. You see what level of support is included with the image (if any), and in some cases you also see the estimated monthly cost.

This puts Amazon a little bit ahead of other cloud providers, which don’t have a big “marketplace” of supported applications. It’s a good move for Amazon and companies like BitNami that want to provide support for applications, or that want to offer software at a premium above the EC2 instance cost. Billing is simplified, so customers just pay through Amazon and the partners get their money from Amazon.

Why It’s Underwhelming

This is all good, as far as it goes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go very far yet. Virtual appliances are nothing new. This makes it simpler to consume single-server applications, but still leaves a lot of configuration to the end users.

Consider, for instance, deploying Sharepoint with Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). If you look at the whitepaper that Amazon published on this (PDF), the architecture is much less simple than a single EC2 image. If your needs go further than a single EC2 image, the marketplace (at least right now) has nothing for you.

What would be really impressive is to see CloudFormation templates that provide highly available applications or more complex applications using Amazon RDS, and so on. We suspect that will come down the pike eventually, but the marketplace as it stands right now doesn’t really tap the potential of AWS.

But it does plant a flag for Amazon, and gives the company yet another feature over the competition. While its competitors are still working on catching up to Amazon on features, Amazon is rallying partners to deliver services on its infrastructure.

Does Amazon have a big leg up with the AWS Marketplace? Are you more likely to use the AWS cloud thanks to the market? We would love to hear your thoughts about this in the comments.

(Image courtesy of Jonas M Luster via Flickr under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license.)

Source: Inside Amazon’s AWS Marketplace: The Cloud in a Shopping Cart

Microsoft Trying Hard to Match AWS, Cuts Azure Pricing

March 9th, 2012 03:01 admin View Comments

azure-150.pngThis should be fun. Just a few days after Amazon announced its 19th price cut, Microsoft is announcing its own price cuts for Azure Storage and Compute. If you’re looking at running a smaller instance with a 100MB database, you can now get one for less than $20 a month. If you’re doing heavy computing, though, Azure still seems a bit behind AWS.

The cuts are 12% to Azure Storage (now $0.125 per GB), and the extra small compute instance for Azure has been dropped by 50% to $0.02 per hour. If you’re buying the six month plans, Microsoft has reduced storage prices by “up to 14%.”

Comparing Azure to AWS

Microsoft breaks their prices down by month rather than by compute hour on their pricing calculator, so it’s not as simple as one might hope to compare pricing. But here’s how it breaks down, assuming 732 billable hours per month:

  • Microsoft Extra Small (1GHz CPU, 768MB RAM, 20GB Storage): $0.02 per hour, $15.00 per month
  • Microsoft Small (1.6GHz CPU, 1.75GB RAM, 225GB Storage): $0.123 per hour, $90.00 per month
  • Microsoft Medium (2 x 1.6GHz CPU, 3.5GB RAM, 490GB Storage): $0.25 per hour, $180.00 per month
  • Microsoft Large (4 x 1.6GHz CPU, 7GB RAM, 1,000GB Storage): $0.49 per hour, $360.00 per month
  • Microsoft Extra Large (8 x 1.6GHz CPU, 14GB RAM, 2,040GB Storage): $0.98 per hour, $720 per month

How does that stack up with AWS EC2 pricing? I took a look at the pricing for Windows instances on EC2, without any reserved pricing bonuses:

  • AWS Micro (Up to 2 EC2 Compute Units in bursts, 613MB RAM, EBS Storage Only): $0.03 per hour, $21.96 per month
  • AWS Small (1 EC2 Compute Unit, 1.7GB RAM, 160GB Storage): $0.115 per hour, $84.19 per month
  • AWS Medium (2 EC2 Compute Units, 3.75GB RAM, 410GB Storage): $0.23 per hour, $168.36 per month
  • AWS Large (4 EC2 Compute Units, 7.5GB RAM, 850GB Storage): $0.46 per hour, $336.72 per month
  • AWS XL (8 EC2 Compute Units, 15GB RAM, 1,690GB Storage): $0.92 per hour, $673.44 per month

The EC2 compute units are described as “the equivalent CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor,” so it doesn’t look like you’re getting quite the same horsepower out of an AWS compute unit, and AWS is more stingy with storage. AWS instances have a wee bit more RAM, though. Pricing-wise, AWS is coming in cheaper if you accept the instances as roughly equivalent.

Where it gets trickier is if you opt for longer-term pricing with Azure. You can buy six month plans with Azure for “up to 20%” less on a monthly basis. Amazon has several tiers of reserved instances, and additional discounts for big spenders as we covered earlier this week.

SQL Server Pricing

What gets trickier is adding in SQL server. If you want, specifically, Microsoft’s brand ‘o SQL, then you’re looking at Microsoft’s SQL Azure Database or running AWS EC2 Instances with SQL Server. Here you must choose large or XL instances, as AWS doesn’t offer micro, small or medium instances with SQL Server. You can run SQL Server Express Edition on any of the instance types, but for the full package you’re only going with the two higher-end instances.

That inflates the pricing to $1.06 per hour for large instances, and $1.52 per hour for XL instances.

Azure, on the other hand, charges by the size of the database and the number of databases. So comparing the two services gets pretty hairy if you factor in SQL Server.

If you’re looking at a lot of compute instances, Amazon still seems to have the edge in pricing. One might also be tempted to look at AWS after the Azure meltdown at the end of February, though AWS has had its own issues.

Microsoft does have plenty of money to throw at this, so this is unlikely to be the last price cut we see in 2012 from either vendor.

Source: Microsoft Trying Hard to Match AWS, Cuts Azure Pricing

Amazon Leads Price War: Drops AWS Pricing Again, Leans Heavy on Reserved Instances

March 6th, 2012 03:31 admin View Comments

aws-logo150x150.pngAccording to Amazon’s blog today, the company is now on their 19th price cut since AWS debuted, but who’s counting? Well, they are, apparently. The company is lowering pricing on EC2 instances, ElastiCache, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) and Amazon Elastic Map Reduce are all dropping significantly. Significantly, Amazon is heavily emphasizing its price cuts on Reserved Instances.

The EC2 pricing is dropping by up to 10% for on-demand instances. If you’re consuming Reserved Instances, Amazon is dropping prices up to 37%.

Amazon is also appealing to heavy users with its price cuts, offering volume discounts of 10% for customers that own more than $250,000 of Reserved Instances for additional Reserved Instances. After the $2 million mark, Amazon is offering a 20% discount, and Amazon is asking customers to call if they pass the $5 million threshold.

The prices for RDS are dropping by similar amounts. If you’re using on-demand RDS, pricing drops by up to 10%. Amazon has shaved pricing as much as 42% for Reserved Instances of RDS. Likewise, ElastiCache is dropping by up to 10% if you use on-demand instances. (ElastiCache doesn’t have reserved pricing on its pricing page.)

What’s interesting, aside from the actual price drop, is the emphasis Amazon is putting on the Reserved Instances. By moving more customers to Reserved Instances, Amazon can better plan its capacity needs for the next few years and helps lock customers into using AWS. Companies could switch to RackSpace, Google or another provider – but they’d be losing some significant chunks of change in doing so.

This seems like a pretty smart move on Amazon’s part, and I’m wondering how long it’s going to take for other providers to introduce something similar. As far as I know, Amazon is the only major player offering this kind of pricing scheme and seems to be handily undercutting the other players.

Source: Amazon Leads Price War: Drops AWS Pricing Again, Leans Heavy on Reserved Instances

BitNami Goes Beyond AWS Cloud with Application Library

February 13th, 2012 02:30 admin View Comments

bitnami-cloud-icon.jpgBitNami announced today that they’re going to be offering ready to run images of popular open source stacks for a wider range of public and private clouds. Previously, BitNami’s cloud images were only available for Amazon Web Services (AWS), but the company is now providing images for Eucalyptus, OpenStack, VMware vCloud and others.

For those not familiar with BitNami, the company provides ready to run packages of popular open source applications or development environments. For instance, SugarCRM, Drupal, Alfresco and Liferay are available as pre-configured images for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. The company also provides pre-configured stacks of Ruby on Rails, Django, etc. BitNami also provides virtual machine images for running on VMware.

BitNami moved into cloud hosting with AWS last February. Now they’re offering public cloud and private cloud offerings that give “one-click” deployable images and integration into other cloud platforms.

Pricing depends on the type of customer. BitNami CEO says that cloud hosting providers would have a volume-based pricing with a “minimum commitment.” Private cloud customers would have an annual subscription. The subscriptions include updates for the software as well as configuration support (for the images, not the applications).

I’m a bit surprised that more companies aren’t offering this sort of service. Are you looking at BitNami, or have tried it? Would love your thoughts.

Source: BitNami Goes Beyond AWS Cloud with Application Library

Keep Track of your AWS Expenses With Cloudyn

February 9th, 2012 02:02 admin View Comments

cloudyn-logo-150.jpgWith the number of individual Amazon Web Services now seemingly approaching infinity, it makes sense for third parties to get into the act of trying to keep track of what you are actually spending and whether you have over-provisioned your services. Enter Cloudyn.com, an Israeli based company that announced its services this week.

The idea is to have a dashboard similar to what you see below (mine isn’t very interesting, sorry, I have taken down all of my machines at the moment) where you can track your projected annual costs, which accounts you have on AWS and what your running instances of your virtual machines are costing you and other trends. Yes, this information is all available from AWS directly, but perhaps not in as prettified format. And of course, you can probably predict that Cloudyn won’t stop at AWS but will include other cloud-based providers eventually, which makes a lot of sense. Besides this dashboard, there are plenty of other analytics available, including specific downsizing recommendations. If you have a large and complex sprawl of AWS instances (unlike me), this might be useful to you.

cloudyn.jpg

So far the company has actually delivered more than a million dollars in aggregate savings in cloud costs across its beta customers, averaging 42% reductions according to their announcement. That merits a closer look for sure.

The Cloudyn service is free to try out before it moves out of beta in May. Once you sign up it takes a few days for them to look over your usage patterns and generate a meaningful report.

Source: Keep Track of your AWS Expenses With Cloudyn

Amazon Sets Sights on Support in the Cloud

January 31st, 2012 01:00 admin View Comments

aws-logo150x150.pngNeed support for Red Hat, Ubuntu, SUSE Linux or Microsoft Windows on AWS? Amazon is now offering support for setup, configuration and troubleshooting of system software as part of its support program. The company is also adding a “trusted advisor” feature to inspect AWS environments and offer help ranging from performance improvements to security suggestions.

The third-party support is being offered to customers with premium support packages. If you have gold or platinum support (starts at $400 for gold, and $15,000 for platinum), you can now ask questions about operating systems and “common application stack components.” This includes Apache, IIS, Sendmail, Postfix and (oddly) FTP.

Trusted Advisor

What’s more interesting is the addition of the Trusted Advisor, which will perform checks and offer suggestions about how to improve the AWS experience. Amazon is starting with eight checks, ranging from checking open ports to flagging unused elastic IP addresses.

Most of these center around AWS offerings, like suggesting customers purchase reserved instances if there’s a scenario where it would save customers money based on past usage. (Which also dovetails nicely with AWS interests, since reserved instances no doubt help Amazon with capacity planning.)

The services that Amazon is offering advice on, right now, is pretty limited. However, with the data that Amazon has at its disposal, it’s conceivable that this could be expanded to become a major selling point for using AWS. Again, the Trusted Advisor services are available to customers who gold or platinum support members.

Amazon’s support offerings are still pretty limited, so I don’t think they’ll be challenging Rackspace’s “fanatical support” anytime soon.

Source: Amazon Sets Sights on Support in the Cloud

Amazon S3 Says it Tripled in Objects Stored Last Year

January 30th, 2012 01:00 admin View Comments

Amazon Web Services just reported jaw-dropping growth in the number of objects stored in Amazon S3 year over year.

“As of the end of 2011, there are 762 billion (762,000,000,000) objects in Amazon S3. We process over 500,000 requests per second for these objects at peak times,” AWS Evangelist Jeff Bar wrote on the company’s blog tonight. The company reported 262 billion objects in storage in Q4 of 2010. “This represents year-over-year growth of 192%; S3 grew faster last year than it did in any year since it launched in 2006.” Independent analysts say this is indicative of the growth of the cloud in general and of Amazon’s striking dominance of the market.

“What we are seeing is the geometric explosion of cloud growth from multiple points,” Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang told ReadWriteWeb.

“First, broad based adoption driven by consumerization of IT. Second, the shift from transaction to engagement – we have social, mobile, analytical, and other unstructured data. Third, true elasticity has come to fruition as the promise of the cloud gets delivered. People are taking to the cloud because the tools are easy to use and they don’t have time or money to provision expensive servers. Instead they are using elasticity, which was the original premise of AWS. We could see it happening last year but this leap in growth is tremendous.”

Dave Linthicum, CTO and Founder of Blue Mountain Labs, says Amazon’s dominance is clear. “The rapid growth of AWS S3 is pretty much in-line with what I’m seeing in enterprises adopting cloud computing. The reality is that they are the 800 pound gorilla, and continue to gain weight. Unless they do something stupid, they are the storage provider to beat.”

Ray Wang concurs. “There are only a few companies in the world who can compete with Amazon,” he told me by IM tonight.

“It has established itself as one of the leading contenders. The barriers of entry are high. Very few folks can afford to build the data centers, the software infrastructure, and momentum to be profitable. Amazon is in the same league as Google, Microsoft, IBM, etc. The only other folks that could do it if they woke up are the telco’s – but we’ve all been telling them that for years. They haven’t paid attention.”

Amazon’s Barr explains the growth thusly. “Although we definitely made it easier for you to delete objects using Multi-Object Deletion and Object Expiration, we also gave you plenty of ways to upload new objects using Multipart upload, AWS Direct Connect, and AWS Import/Export,” he wrote in his blog post. He concluded by noting that running a system so complex is hard work and pointed to open jobs at AWS.

Source: Amazon S3 Says it Tripled in Objects Stored Last Year

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