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Amazon's Cloud May Provision 50,000 VMs a Day

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the golden-lining dept.

The Internet 122

Dan Jones writes "It has been estimated that Amazon Web Services is provisioning some 50,000 EC2 server instances per day, or more than 18 million per year. But that may not be entirely accurate. A single Amazon Machine Image (the virtual machine) may be launched multiple times as an EC2 instance, thereby indicating that the true number of individual Amazon servers may be lower, perhaps much lower, than 50,000 per day. So, even if it's out by a factor of 10 that's still 1.8 million VMs per year. Is that sustainable? By way of comparison, In February of this year, Amazon announced S3 contained 40 billion objects. By August, the number was 64 billion objects. This indicates a growth of 4 billion S3 objects per month, giving a daily growth total of about 133 million new S3 objects per day. How big can the cloud get before it starts to rain?"

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It'll be glorious (1)

J4 (449) | about 5 years ago | (#29591679)

If history tells us anything, it is that there _will_ be a failure.

When it rains (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29591681)

The Macintosh is that gay little rainbow in the insecure world

Global warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29591685)

The massive cloud will block sunlight and cause temperatures to drop. We've found a remedy for global warming!

What is the rain in this analogy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29591691)

Are you saying rain as bad or rain as good?

I don't see the point of this entire article. Its too early to predict if the Amazon cloud will do anything meaningful or if its going to be a spectacular failure.

Re:What is the rain in this analogy? (2, Interesting)

stressclq (881842) | about 5 years ago | (#29591897)

Its too early to predict if the Amazon cloud will do anything meaningful or if its going to be a spectacular failure.

Considering 64 billion objects and counting, if the latter is to happen it's bound to give a whole new meaning to "when it rains, it pours".

Re:What is the rain in this analogy? (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 5 years ago | (#29592101)

Any port in a storm. Hope they still have safe harbours.

Re:What is the rain in this analogy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593001)

In my country, we say that, but we say it when telling why we fuck fat girls or ugly girls. Any port in storm!!!

tag: Dumbquestion (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#29591773)

How big can the cloud get before it starts to rain?"

Clouds don't work like that, they let go their rain when they enter a pressure zone where they can no longer hold water.

If Amazon is centrally dispatching, then they deserve to fail. If not, then there's no reason why getting larger would necessarily cause any particular problem.

Re:tag: Dumbquestion (2, Interesting)

Enry (630) | about 5 years ago | (#29591977)

This. Maybe instead of atmospheric clouds, they're talking about the Oort Cloud [wikipedia.org] .

Re:tag: Dumbquestion (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | about 5 years ago | (#29592395)

Those comet thingamabobs don't rain now do they?

Re:tag: Dumbquestion (2, Funny)

Enry (630) | about 5 years ago | (#29592569)

If EC2 has the same uptime as bits of that cloud destroying life on earth, I think it'll be around for a while.

And if one does hit us, I guess it won't matter anyway.

Please stop... (4, Insightful)

broken_chaos (1188549) | about 5 years ago | (#29591783)

Cloud is bad enough. Starting up bullshit analogies with clouds and rain just muddy whatever you're talking about far, far more than is necessary.

Re:Please stop... (5, Funny)

Josh04 (1596071) | about 5 years ago | (#29591855)

I agree, the rain does muddy the waters somewhat. Not to mention the flood of comments deriding it as such.

Re:Please stop... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29591941)

Yes the summary didn't make any sense to me either. "How big can the cloud get before it starts to rain?" Huh? Is it saying how long will it be until the cloud starts making a profit for Amazon, or until the cloud collapses under its own weight? I still remember when AOL signed-up too many customers, and the result was a service that was slow and unresponsive.

Re:Please stop... (2, Funny)

smaddox (928261) | about 5 years ago | (#29592155)

I still remember when AOL signed-up too many customers, and the result was a service that was slow and unresponsive.

Yeah, I remember their grand opening, too.

Re:Please stop... (1)

Zerth (26112) | about 5 years ago | (#29593373)

And the year after that, and the year after that, and ...

Re:Please stop... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29594285)

Actually AOL was a perfectly good and usable service for its first ten years of online existence (1985-95). It wasn't until the pressure of tens of millions of newbies joining AOL that the servers were found to be inadequate for the task. I suspect we'll see the same will be true with Amazon and other cloud companies - good at first but then experiencing slowdown as their central servers become overwhelmed.

Re:Please stop... (1)

PalmKiller (174161) | about 5 years ago | (#29592571)

AOL did that several times as I recall, seemed they never learned to scale properly. I also remember that they sent out so many floppies back when they were still useful, that I never had to buy any...I often wondered how they could send that many floppies out in pretty packaging and stay in business...later they started using cdroms, so then they became a nuisance as apposed to something useful.

Re:Please stop... (2, Interesting)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 5 years ago | (#29593195)

Oh man, I was in art school in early 90's. All those AoL CD's were great for material for art projects and stuff.

Re:Please stop... (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 5 years ago | (#29596139)

later they started using cdroms, so then they became a nuisance as apposed to something useful.

Why didn't you build a AOL CD throne [bedzine.com] like the rest of us?

Re:Please stop... (1)

rotide (1015173) | about 5 years ago | (#29592037)

Cloud is indeed bad enough. But then talking about the mud that is caused by the rain just entirely washes away any sense it could have made.

Re:Please stop... (3, Funny)

suso (153703) | about 5 years ago | (#29592153)

Oh, stop raining on everyone's parade.

Re:Please stop... (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 5 years ago | (#29594301)

You are the silver lining to this discussion.

Re:Please stop... (5, Insightful)

moon3 (1530265) | about 5 years ago | (#29592601)

Managers love this kind of terminology, because from their point of view Internet just 'happens' somehow, they do not have a real clue how, but the cloud fits perfectly into this kind of thinking. That is why cloud hosting is so popular, they just order 4GB/100Mbit/s cloud and the hosting company creates one for them. They do not have to worry about setting up DNS, SQLs, multiple servers, domains, SMTPs and get schooled by some lowlife nerdy IT guys, they understand the dumbed down cloud interface well enough themselves, they just interact with the web interface and are happy it is all working for them.. somehow, somewhere, in the cloud.

Re:Please stop... (1)

hodet (620484) | about 5 years ago | (#29592701)

This is so well put and describes where I work perfectly.

Re:Please stop... (5, Informative)

slim (1652) | about 5 years ago | (#29593757)

Managers love this kind of terminology, because from their point of view Internet just 'happens' somehow.

And cloud computing makes them right. You pay some money, and the entity you're paying the money to, makes it happen.

Just like when I buy a tin of soup from a supermarket, I don't need to understand anything about the supply chain that got it there.

Re:Please stop... (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | about 5 years ago | (#29595661)

Wait 'til you see my value-added cloud service that adds cloud seeding and piss recycling.

ok did a manager write this?! (0)

nimbius (983462) | about 5 years ago | (#29591787)

who cares how many potential VMs the "cloud" can host. its methodone for most end users/devs real problems: inefficient code. the "just pitch machines at it until it runs fast!" mentality will catch up to us.

Re:ok did a manager write this?! (4, Interesting)

RealityProphet (625675) | about 5 years ago | (#29591877)

who cares how many potential VMs the "cloud" can host. its methodone for most end users/devs real problems: inefficient code. the "just pitch machines at it until it runs fast!" mentality will catch up to us.

That's not true. We use Amazon's cloud to host some of our servers. The reason we do it is for two main reasons. (1) We don't need to worry about equipment maintenance. Let me repeat that lest you think its not a big deal: We don't need to worry about equipment maintenance! (That is a big deal when you leave your basement but don't necessarily have a dedicated IT staff). (2) We are in a rapid growth phase. We cannot estimate well enough what are computing needs, our storage needs, are going to be 1- 2- 6- months down the road. We also don't have $50k to drop on equipment and storage that may be utilized 6 months from now, but we sure as hell know if we bought it now it wouldn't be used immediately. Amazon's cloud makes it trivial to keep up with our growing demand without paying up front for it. Sure we pay more to "rent" the stuff from Amazon, but its simply the big(O) argument: Amazon's pricing scales worse than the classic alternatives, but the constants out front are tiny.

Re:ok did a manager write this?! (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29591975)

So to use a car analogy (cough)

- It's the same reason why people lease cars instead of buying them. It's cheaper in the short term, and easier to come up with $300 for rent than $20,000 for purchase. Plus adding extra cars as new employees join the company is trivially easy.

Re:ok did a manager write this?! (3, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#29592655)

But it's even better than a car lease, because you can end the lease on the VM with no penalty. If you have a really big batch job that needs to run once a month then you just spin up the VM's for the duration of the batch job paying for your usage and them deprovision them for the rest of the month.

Re:ok did a manager write this?! (1)

alen (225700) | about 5 years ago | (#29592763)

not really

a lot of businesses don't have cash on hand to meet their needs even if they are profitable. Even Best Buy has to borrow short term to buy up enough inventory to meet demand. Suppliers want to be paid right away. Amazon's solution is ideal for cash poor companies

Re:ok did a manager write this?! (1)

maraist (68387) | about 5 years ago | (#29593799)

To further your point. There is no such thing as free money.. Even if you have $50M in the bank, you don't necessarily have 'free money'.. There is something called the opportunity cost of holding money. And also a liquidity-demand curve. Namely, you can put that dollar into a CD, or commercial paper or a bond or whatever. And your CFO SHOULD be doing this with every penny the company has (with a tapering liquidity curve). So if you can borrow money cheaper than you can safely invest it, then you literally DO have to borrow $20k to buy that server, because that's the smartest thing you can do.

So lets say you use cash to buy the $20k equipment. That capital cost is not free. You have the traditional depreciation rate of the equipment (3yr, 5yr, 30yr, or whatever). But you STILL have the opportunity cost. Meaning what the next best investment strategy would have been... So if you have 5% yielding 6mo CDs. Then your cost is depreciation, operating costs (AC), hosting (rack rental, etc), inet share (if you can deterministically calculate IP-load as a fraction of total IP-BW), AND the interest you COULD have earned on every penny above (here, 5%), scaled out from the moment of purchase to a common maturity date. Further you have to take into account your personal liquidity-demand curve. You're fine with taking down [near]cash-reserves by say $100k for the quarter, but $150 means you'd have to start liquidating some short-term investments, and maybe the market isn't so great for liquidation right now (i.e. rising bond-rates, means loses on cashing out existing bonds). So maybe you should lease equipment for that last $60k (expensing $10k in lease fees).

So each purchasing decision needs to be coupled with the TOTAL ROI v.s. the next best alternative.. Which often is no-action, or in this case, leasing.

Re:ok did a manager write this?! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 5 years ago | (#29594405)

And sometimes it can lead to stupid decisions, like when my company leased a Tektronix Logic Analyzer for $5000 a year for six years. They could have just bought the thing for $20,000 at the start of the project and saved money.

Re:ok did a manager write this?! (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 5 years ago | (#29592071)

We don't need to worry about equipment maintenance.

For the scenario you described, I think S3 would be a good choice. Likewise if a bigger company had a division or department with out-sized or highly variable data storage needs, might work in that situation as well. Judging by the number of objects, a lot of people are finding uses for that capacity.

I know for a while Walmart was using some paint-by-numbers hosted application provider that was based on ASP. Don't know if they still do, but for those one-off, quick and dirty applications it's a better option than using Access and it would work until your developers had an opportunity to have a go at it.

How is using so many VMs more efficient? (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29591827)

I've never really understood the fuss around VMs. Sure , they're useful if you want to test run an OS install or run a different OS on top of another. But otherwise whats the point? Instead of having app + OS you end up with app + VM + OS so how exactly is that benefiting anyone other than the power company for the extra electricity used?

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

iCantSpell (1162581) | about 5 years ago | (#29591893)

If you have a 4 core cpu you could run 4 VMs on one machine at one core per VM.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (5, Informative)

reashlin (1370169) | about 5 years ago | (#29592039)

Its more than that.

Most machines run at around 10% of all possible utilisation. Often web servers will run at less than this. In a datacenter you have two options a) run hundreds of very slow cheap machines each running one instance of your webserver. b) consolidate lots of machines onto one powerful box and running it at 70-80% utilisation.

Option b) has the advantage that should a website get hit heavily (maybe because its been linked too on /.) then you still have the beefy hardware to cope with it. You will also find heating bills go down. You'll usually even get the costs of the hardware down as well.

If your still not convinced then look at the work by most VM software manufacturers who are making it so the VM can move around on physical hardware. Now if your hardware fails - the VM and OS does not. It just moves off somewhere else and continues to operate with little/no drop in performance or uptime.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | about 5 years ago | (#29596423)

look at the work by most VM software manufacturers who are making it so the VM can move around on physical hardware. Now if your hardware fails - the VM and OS does not. It just moves off somewhere else and continues to operate with little/no drop in performance or uptime.

This is the point where our sci-fi future is already visible as a thin shape on the horizon. A VM that lives independently of hardware points toward future abstraction layers where everything is machine-independent, managed transparently by such vastly capable and efficient abstraction that computing begins to take on the sense of a natural resource in abundant, malleable supply, truly becoming the image of its gaseous namesake.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29591983)

Because your apps shouldn't be using 100% of the power of the machine they're on. With virtualization I can meet all of my hosting needs on less net hardware, even after you take out the inefficiency of the virtualization.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29592689)

Sorry , that makes no sense. By definition you could do it on the same hardware without a VM unless your VM somehow magics processing power out of the ether.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (3, Informative)

hodet (620484) | about 5 years ago | (#29592825)

It makes perfect sense. His clients want a dedicated host for their server. 10 clients, 10 virtual servers on one powerful box instead of 10 servers running at minimum capacity. More profit for parent. Data Centers are using virtualization big time because it saves money. Very easy to move the guest OS around if needed, even geographically.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29593387)

So use 1 server and have 10 client logins on it FFS.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

hodet (620484) | about 5 years ago | (#29593603)

Different servers need different configurations depending what apps they are using. Maybe some are Windows servers, UNIX/Linux. Some need Java, .NET One client needs a specific oddball config and now all your clients are on the box with that software. Google the benefits of virtualization, there are many but I have found that it all comes down to $$$

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (2, Insightful)

slim (1652) | about 5 years ago | (#29593883)

So use 1 server and have 10 client logins on it FFS.

1 client wants RHEL 4.
1 client wants RHEL 5.
2 clients want Windows Server, both want a weekly reboot, but during different maintenance slots.
2 clients want stable Debian, but one wants a weekly 'apt-get dist-upgrade', the other wants it monthly ... etc.

Give each one a VM, and you can deliver all this on one physical machine very, very easily.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (3, Informative)

bertok (226922) | about 5 years ago | (#29593223)

Sorry , that makes no sense. By definition you could do it on the same hardware without a VM unless your VM somehow magics processing power out of the ether.

Except that unless you have a magic crystal ball, you'll never be able to predict application load ahead of time. Hence, some servers will be underutilized, and some will be sitting at 100% half the time. The only alternative is to install every application onto every server you have, and load balance everything - but that requires that every app is compatible with every other app, and that every app can operate as a cluster. In practice, that's impossible for typical businesses.

What the latest virtualization platforms do is load balance, on the fly. A large VMware cluster will analyze the load pattern and redistribute virtual machines around the cluster to balance things out, so that each host is evenly loaded. I've seen clusters set to an average of 70% CPU load, and it was just fine. If one host starts heading towards 100%, a few VMs are shuffled around until the load is evened out again. Users can't really tell the difference between, say, 20% and 70% load. It's only at 90% or higher that you get contention and increases in response latency. It takes about 5 seconds to move a VM, but the actual outage is only a few milliseconds, if that, so users never notice.

One thing I noticed with VM deployments is that most apps get faster on less hardware. This is counterintuitive, but I've seen it before in well designed Terminal Server / Citrix deployments. The basic concept is that you can afford much better hardware if you need less of it. You can buy beefier servers, 10Gb ethernet, SAN storage, etc... When 1 app needs lots of power, it gets it, and then it gives up its share when it doesn't to other apps that do.

So yeah, in a sense, virtualization does magic processing power of the ether, because it actually lets you use the processing power you paid Intel or AMD thousands of dollars for.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29593423)

"The only alternative is to install every application onto every server you have, and load balance everything - but that requires that every app is compatible with every other app, and that every app can operate as a cluster."

When did installing multiple apps on 1 server go out of fashion? I realise Windows can't handle many apps on the same box before things go awry but Unix has no issue with it, plus it can load balance between the CPUs , keep all the apps seperate in chrooted jails if necessary and if the server goes down you restore to another box using a tarball or similar.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (3, Insightful)

slim (1652) | about 5 years ago | (#29594005)

When did installing multiple apps on 1 server go out of fashion?

When it became clear it's a management headache.

"Hi it's ops. You know your foo server sits on the same box as the bar server? Yeah, well the bar guys have found out they need a kernel with a higher filehandle limit, so we're going to be rebooting that box. You'll need to tell your users about the outage. Oh, and you'd better have QA test the foo server with the new kernel too."

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (5, Informative)

SappoMan (51574) | about 5 years ago | (#29591987)

Ok, you don't work in IT right? At least not on the admin side.
VM are mainly about server consolidation. That means that given the fact that servers are usually under utilized you can put quite a number of VM per core. Usually for server workloads the number is around 2: 2VM * 4 cores * 2 cpu (typical blade) yields 16 VM. You see, in the end the power company gets paid only for a physical server every 16 OS instances. Not bad.
Server consolidation is not the only reason you use virtualization. Other issues you can solve are: high availability and fault tolerance, quick deployment of new servers, hardware abstraction and many others

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

felipekk (1007591) | about 5 years ago | (#29592169)

Hardware abstraction being one of the more compelling features IMO.

How long you think it would take you to move all the services to that new server hardware you just received, because the current server hardware warranty just expired?

Well, with VM's you can do that _A LOT_ faster.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

SappoMan (51574) | about 5 years ago | (#29592469)

Yes, between 10 seconds and a minute.. ;) left click, migrate and BOOM

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

Vancorps (746090) | about 5 years ago | (#29592647)

Takes about 10 seconds and happens without dropping so much as a packet. Of course that will depend on your back-end storage. I'm fortunate enough to run with NetApp though so it's all gravy. On a side-note, Citrix Essentials for XenServer is pretty cool with their SAN integration technology. Thin-provisioning on the fly is the way to be! When I make a storage repository it is 20megs until I create a VM and even then it will only take up space that is actually taken up. Combined with volume level deduplication and you have yourself a pretty efficient environment. Just wish people would stop calling it a cloud.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

slim (1652) | about 5 years ago | (#29594229)

Just wish people would stop calling it a cloud.

What you have might not be a cloud, but what Amazon offers probably is.

You provision an EC2 instance, and it's there. You don't know where it is, and you don't care. There's just a cloud of VMs, yours is in there somewhere, and you can connect to it to use it.

Dynamically, Amazon might choose to move your VM to another physical host for all kinds of reasons -- an unplanned physical failure, a planned power-down, some algorithm that decides they could meet your needs more cheaply at a different location, etc. And you wouldn't notice.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29592731)

I thinl you're missing my point - why have multiple OSes if they're all the same type of OS and the apps could all happily run on the same OS instance? As for deployment - have you never heard of a tarball? OS dies - take app tarball to new server , untar. Hows that different to copying a VM machine file over?

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (4, Interesting)

bertok (226922) | about 5 years ago | (#29592971)

I thinl you're missing my point - why have multiple OSes if they're all the same type of OS and the apps could all happily run on the same OS instance? As for deployment - have you never heard of a tarball? OS dies - take app tarball to new server , untar. Hows that different to copying a VM machine file over?

In the real world, people run apps like Exchange or Oracle, which take hours to install to a vanilla state, and that's not counting the potentially terabytes of data associated with them.

Even the most primitive "tar ball" Linux app will have dependencies on the OS, and those can and will eventually break, unless you freeze your OS version forever. If you have enough apps and servers, that will become a nightmare to manage. Do I upgrade or not upgrade? Will this patch or that patch break one of the apps? This is how people end up running Linux 2.2, or 32-bit Windows on 64-bit platforms, because migrating 1 app is hard enough, but migrating a server with 20 apps on it is a recipe for disaster.

Virtualization lets you quite literally drag & drop a running host OS from server to server. During maintenance time, that's like magic. No more 3am hardware replacement jobs for me! You can clone a machine while it's running, isolate the clone onto a virtual network, and test an upgrade without interrupting users. Sure, you can do that with most backup & restore tools, but VM platforms do it quicker, and with fewer admin steps. You don't even need spare hardware.

I once replaced every single hardware component of a running VM farm, servers, cables, switches, even the SAN, while it was running. During the day. Zero outage, no packets lost, no TCP/IP connections closed or user sessions disconnected. We even had terminal server (Citrix) and console (SSH) users on. Not one user even noticed what was going on. I'd love to see you try that with 'tar'.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (0, Troll)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29593533)

A VM is just an app. It will have as many OS dependencies as any other app so you will still have OS upgrade issues especially if you upgrade the VM version as time goes by too.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

pacman on prozac (448607) | about 5 years ago | (#29596105)

Handy for upgrades but also great for redundancy.

If you have a power outage in a data center you can have all of the servers instantly pop up in the backup data center without even dropping any sessions.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

dissy (172727) | about 5 years ago | (#29594703)

why have multiple OSes if they're all the same type of OS and the apps could all happily run on the same OS instance?

Well if that situation was ever true, you might have a point.
In the real world, it rarely works out that way.

Especially so for load balancing.

Your solution is similar to a server with 2-3 power supplies, all plugged into the same powerstrip, yet claiming redundancy. It just doesn't work like that.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

dissy (172727) | about 5 years ago | (#29594747)

As for deployment - have you never heard of a tarball? OS dies - take app tarball to new server , untar. Hows that different to copying a VM machine file over?

Sorry for the second reply, but...

I would imagine a tarball of an OS would take more than 2 seconds to move from one machine to another.
Every second over 2 seconds is wasted time.

Yes, you can move a running VM from one physical server to another, in seconds, while the OS in the VM never notices anything but a 100ms network burp (if that)

When you can take a server down, tar its backup to a new machine, boot it, and get it running, without any of the apps being offline at all nor the guest OS restarting, then maybe your method would work or be better than a VM. I don't see how that would be possible though, seeing as software can not run while tarred on your backup storage.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#29592879)

The point is that multi-tasking operating systems already support server consolidation by protecting processes from each other so you can run multiple processes on a host safely. And they do it in a FAR more efficiently than VMs, which have an entire OS instance for every process, and memory partitioned statically between them.

However, the OS doesn't quite finish the job. The need for VMs arises from design shortcomings at the OS level and above. Here are a few:

  1. You can't install an app and all its dependencies and configuration by simply copying from one host to another. On Linux especially, apps have an insane number of dependencies
  2. Process migration
  3. Using certain port numbers for certain services (most services don't portmap, and firewalling rely heavily on port number assumpions)

It would be nice to fix these at the OS level instead of just piling one protected memory mechanism atop another (java VM atop a virtual machine atop a protected memory CPU architecture and OS).

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (2, Informative)

alen (225700) | about 5 years ago | (#29591995)

we have used VMWare for a few years. Our devs would write a java app and it would require it's own server but it would use maybe 20% if not less of the resources. Now we just provision a VM. less server clutter in the datacenter and smaller electricity bills. Also great for DR. we ship the entire VM to a DR site so all we have to do is bring it up, change the IP and we're ready to go. otherwise we would spend days trying to configure all the apps, find the source, etc.

i have my own server i used to test a SQL Server migration. we went from a single DB/Web Server for reporting services to a clustered DB and a scale out web farm. needed VM's to test out a long list of things since the cluster was already in production with another instance running on it.

For production physical hardware is still cheap for heavy duty stuff. HP Proliant servers are dirt cheap and they scale out to 144GB for 1U models. Next year it will probably double. and with SQL and Oracle there is no need for VM, since you can just create new instances and not worry about hypervisor performance issues.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

radtea (464814) | about 5 years ago | (#29592765)

Our devs would write a java app and it would require it's own server but it would use maybe 20% if not less of the resources.

This is the part I don't get, that is left out of the answers above (the migration issue makes sense independently, though!)

My question is simple: how on Earth do you write an app that "would require its own server" but only use 10 or 20 percent of the machine's resources? I Just Don't Get It when you say an app would "require its own server" but not max out the server's resources.

Where is the "requirement" coming from, if it's not a resource utilization requirement?

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (2, Informative)

jcnnghm (538570) | about 5 years ago | (#29592921)

Security/Separation of Duties.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (2, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 5 years ago | (#29593319)

having one app conflict with another app. 10 years ago we had a few apps. today there are too many to count and constant point releases where minor functionality is added by user request or small bugs fixed.

and it's not just java apps. weblogic instances, other apps we might buy or code internally. then there is QA since they need everything production has. Moving QA to VMWare was one of the first things we did when we bought it. the QA and Dev SQL servers are still physical, but a lot of their apps are now virtualized

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

Galactic Dominator (944134) | about 5 years ago | (#29592013)

VM's are great for many things. First off, know that most hardware is severely under-utilized. Then factor in the ease of replication, testing, security(via sandboxing and other methods), ability to scale horizontally quickly. There are downsides too of course which is why we prefer to run our own XEN setup, then use http://www.eucalyptus.com/ [eucalyptus.com] light up more VM's in case of load need or disaster.

VM are a huge cost saver, and the fastest development environment.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

Synn (6288) | about 5 years ago | (#29592017)

Change "OS" to "hardware", so it's:

app/OS + hardware vs app/OS + VM + hardware. The fuss is you get to disassociate your app and OS from a specific piece of hardware. If the hardware fails all you have to do is move the VM "image" to new hardware.

Or, if the needs of the up go up or down you can move it to less powerful(cheaper) or more powerful(expensive) hardware as needed without much effort.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 5 years ago | (#29593585)

No , that would be app/OS + VM + OS + hardware. The host OS doesn't just conveniently vanish, its still using up CPU cycles.

"If the hardware fails all you have to do is move the VM "image" to new hardware."

How many apps are hardware dependent these days? All OS's have hardware abstractions , eg unix /dev directory. So whats different between doing that and just moving the app over to another server?

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

slim (1652) | about 5 years ago | (#29594433)

No , that would be app/OS + VM + OS + hardware. The host OS doesn't just conveniently vanish, its still using up CPU cycles.

While you can run VMs on a desktop OS (or indeed on a server), the real fun comes when you run it on a platform that's been custom designed for the purpose. For example, VMWare ESX. This is effectively a kernel with VMWare built into it. Sure it's an OS, but it's a very, very light OS.

"If the hardware fails all you have to do is move the VM "image" to new hardware."

How many apps are hardware dependent these days? All OS's have hardware abstractions , eg unix /dev directory. So whats different between doing that and just moving the app over to another server?

The difference is that you can do it without stopping the application.

Imagine you're paying me to host a Linux system for you. I could be running that as a VM on box a. While you're logged in and actively using the system, I could move the VM to box b, without you noticing. You might spot a momentary pause, but nothing more.

*That's* how it's different from moving the app over to another server.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

Synn (6288) | about 5 years ago | (#29595421)

How many apps are hardware dependent these days? All OS's have hardware abstractions , eg unix /dev directory. So whats different between doing that and just moving the app over to another server?

Because you have to configure and setup that server for the app.

I run 70 instances(servers) on Amazon EC2 with maybe 10 different applications/products. All of these instances are built from "images" called AMI's. When I update an instance, like say install a new gem(Ruby on Rails library), cron job, supporting perl script or whatever, I always re-image the server so the AMIs are up to date.

When an instance dies I can build a new one from that image in about 5 minutes, all from my home or office. If I had to replace a physical server I'd need to make sure all the proper libraries were install, crons, perl scripts, monit configs, proper server software(is this an apache or mysql box?), etc etc.

You can probably get around that using imaging software on the physical servers, but it's so much easier to do it with VMs because the core of VM technology is built around the concept of taking a "snapshot" of a running server and moving it around.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 5 years ago | (#29595957)

How many apps are hardware dependent these days?

I am aware of issues with software like Microsoft Exchange which will corrupt mail databases if it gets a I/O wait error (drivers aren't supposed to do this, but common in a lot of drivers) rather than the driver just pausing all I/O for the hardware involved to keep up. Running Exchange in a VM gets around this annoyance.

Then there is hardware that doesn't support certain OSes correctly, (ie: win2k) which maybe the only OS a certain product will run on (due to the product requiring you to buy another license to run it on a different version of an OS or it simply has problems with the OS due to the need to use something like a 16bit application).

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about 5 years ago | (#29592041)

Basicly you're right.

But there are some neat tricks you can do with VMs like taking an instant snapshot and use that for debugging.
Migrating VMs to another (hardware) server is a non-issue. (just Copy over the image)
If you're working with a cluster anyway, creating another node is also mainly a matter of copying the image.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

slim (1652) | about 5 years ago | (#29592059)

There are plenty of reasons why you might choose to host two services on two different machines, even if one machine would have enought power. Things like being able to take one down without affecting the other.

VMs let you keep some of that model, while consolidating down to less hardware.

Plus it makes deployment easy: get your system how you want it, then save it as an image. Now you can clone it as much as you like. Now that there are OSS VM hosts, the commercial virtualisation companies are concentrating their efforts on providing more and more powerful tools for creating, managing and deploying images.

But why should I be saying all this. Read it from a marketeer:
http://www.vmware.com/technology/why.html [vmware.com]

Especially cool, is VMs with high availability. Two physical machines, in separate datacentres, each running the same VM in lockstep. Pull the power cord on one, and the user will notice nothing but a momentary pause as the secondary VM takes over.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (5, Informative)

teshuvah (831969) | about 5 years ago | (#29592149)

I've never really understood the fuss around VMs. Sure , they're useful if you want to test run an OS install or run a different OS on top of another. But otherwise whats the point? Instead of having app + OS you end up with app + VM + OS so how exactly is that benefiting anyone other than the power company for the extra electricity used?

Because for the most part, most servers don't run anywhere near full capacity (and if they do, then they are probably not good candidates for virtualization, except possibly for high availability purposes which I will go over in the second paragraph). I forget the study but I read once that on average a typical server sits at 5-15% utilization. So the idea behind products like VMware ESX is that if you need 5 unique servers, instead of buying 5 servers at $5,000 a piece, you buy 1 server for $5,000 + 1 $5,000 VMware license, and run the 5 virtual servers on that. So you spend $10,000 instead of $25,000, and your footprint is 1/5th of what it was before, meaning less racks, less cooling, less power, etc. And the numbers I gave are very conservative. A lot of people do 10-20 VMs per server easily.

So cost, power, and cooling issues aside, there are other issues. In a typical server environment, if a physical server suffers from a catastrophic hardware failure, that server is down until someone can walk over and swap the hardware. With VMware, if a VM is running on a server and that server fails, the VM is cold booted on another ESX server automatically, and is typically up in 30-60 seconds. With the newest release of ESX server, called vSphere, they take it a step further. You can optionally choose to have A VM mirror itself on to another physical ESX server. So in the event of a hardware failure, the VM keeps running on the mirrored host. And then, it becomes the primary VM and sets itself up to mirror automatically on another ESX server. So you have ZERO downtime and the app re-mirrors itself. These are just some of the many useful features in VMware.

And no, I do not work for VMware. I am a contractor for the Air Force and over the past 2 years I have converted almost 200 physical servers to VMs. We are a relatively small program, but our projections show that we will save $2,000,000 over 10 years just on the cost of servers (and yes, i have added in the cost of VMware licenses and support into that equation), and that doesn't even account for power and cooling savings. We've gone from almost 200 physical servers distributed over 7 full racks racks down to 28 servers in 2 racks (2 racks only because they are two separate facilities. Each rack only contains a single HP c-class chassis)

I think the real question is, how can you NOT understand the fuss around VMs?

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

six6 (765050) | about 5 years ago | (#29596235)

To take this further, putting those VMs in the cloud turns all these expensive servers into operational expenses. So now the business can deduct 100% of the cost of running its infrastructure...

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29592209)

Let's take for example the UCS B-200 M1 Blade Server. It supports up to 384GB of memory. And with an average of 3GB RAM per Virtual Machine (VM), it would allow you to run up to 100 (with some overhead) VMs. Both on the server side as on the cooling side -> lots of saved energy.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

SappoMan (51574) | about 5 years ago | (#29592449)

UCS B-250, the B-200 tops out at 96MB when using 8GB DIMM

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

JerryLove (1158461) | about 5 years ago | (#29592391)

There are two things that appeal to me about VMs.

The first is the east of backup/recovery/spawning new VMs. Want to play with altering ProgramA, no problem, let me just copy ProgramA's VM and start it up.

The other is less hardware. Perahps ProgramA and ProgramB don't want to run on the same server... they will generally run in seperate VMs fine. Perhaps ProgramA requires a different version of SQL, or some other dependancy; no problem in VMs. Things that were before going on underutilized servers can now be piled together one one.

And if it does get over-taxed, they are easy to move.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | about 5 years ago | (#29592557)

I used them for two reasons.. Application Isolation, and Disaster recovery..

Many of the apps we used (hello, Oracle Colaboration suite, looking at you) require really messing with system files to make work decent. This makes other programs very unhappy, so apps like these really need to run on their own box. Since it wasn't disk or CPU intensive, it was easy enough to just stick in a VM, so I could do other things with the server too. Secondly, its kinda nice when you need to restart a machine to fix a problem with a service or application, and you don't have to worry about any other applications or services running on the same machine that might also go down. For instance, our backup software really only ran outside of work hours.. If I needed to reboot the backup server, I did not have to reboot the calendar server (which was really only used during the day) that ran on the same machine, in a different VM.

For Disaster recovery.. If your building goes up in smoke, its nice to know you have backups, however, if you don't have the same exact hardware, loading the applications can be a very, very long process to recover from. With VM's, you abstract away the hardware dependancies... We could technically run our web server on a cheap desktop if we needed to in a disaster.. it would run slow, but it would still run.. This is also helpful when you have a critical app running on an older machine.. its normally a pain to get a new server setup just right, migrate the data over, test the crap out of it, run them both at the same time until you trust the new one, then cut over. With VM's, you get the new machine running Xen, or VMWare, or whatever, copy the VM over, and start it up. Then, you can retire the old machine.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

radtea (464814) | about 5 years ago | (#29592897)

Many of the apps we used (hello, Oracle Colaboration suite, looking at you) require really messing with system files to make work decent. This makes other programs very unhappy, so apps like these really need to run on their own box.

This makes sense now: incompetent server developers are the driver behind this aspect of VMs. Other aspects are independent of this, but a lot of people responding here have simply taken for granted that most servers are written by monkeys, and are therefore unable to play nicely with others.

I kind of figured this was the case, having written server code (back in the '90's) and seen the gyrations my team went through to make sure we were able to run without requiring a stepped-on environment, but I found it hard to believe that badly-written server code had become so common as to make virtualization the only viable solution.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

teshuvah (831969) | about 5 years ago | (#29593323)

Many of the apps we used (hello, Oracle Colaboration suite, looking at you) require really messing with system files to make work decent. This makes other programs very unhappy, so apps like these really need to run on their own box.

This makes sense now: incompetent server developers are the driver behind this aspect of VMs. Other aspects are independent of this, but a lot of people responding here have simply taken for granted that most servers are written by monkeys, and are therefore unable to play nicely with others.

I kind of figured this was the case, having written server code (back in the '90's) and seen the gyrations my team went through to make sure we were able to run without requiring a stepped-on environment, but I found it hard to believe that badly-written server code had become so common as to make virtualization the only viable solution.

Yes and no. As I said before a server typically runs at 5%-15% utilization. So if you want to get the most out of your hardware without virtualization, you'd need to run the equivalent of 6-20 servers' worth of applications on there. So that means that for example you may have a domain controller, a print server, a file server, an IIS server, an Apache server, a Tomcat server, the backup server, etc. all on one box. So if the backup server isn't doing anything and you want to install a patch and reboot it, you now bring down all of those other services, or you have to wait until off hours to do it.

Yes, poorly written code and custom configuration is a good reason to go to virtualization, but even properly written software works better when a server is isolated for one or a few select purposes, in the sense that you won't effect other systems when you need to be brought down.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

spec8472 (241410) | about 5 years ago | (#29592719)

We're a dev shop. Having a VM farm has saved our IT guys so much time and money.
We used to buy dedicated boxes - some projects would get their own, most would share on some conglomerate box. Weird shit happened, stuff would never get uninstalled after a project was over, and people would be tripping over each other all the time (One person needs to reboot a box, the other was trying to debug some arcane issue). In short: a nightmare.

Now, we buy a AUD$6k box from $brand, hook it up to our SAN, and run anywhere up to 24 VMs on that one box at once.
Each project gets one VM, possibly two or three if we need to simulate complex setups, or need multiple concurrent environments. If one project needs to do something resource heavy like do load testing, we can allocate a bunch more resources, set up a virtual network with a series of load-testing clients on a 10GbE network, and have at it usually without affecting other projects.

At the end of a project, we shut the VMs down for that project, and eventually archive them off. If a client comes back needing changes - that VM can be back online within 15 minutes. It's still in the same state as when we last worked on the project - its a bit more difficult to do that with physical hardware.

Our internal 'production' servers (email, source control, wiki, intranet, etc) are all virtualised too - although they get their own dedicated hardware pool where appropriate.

Backups are as simple as snapshotting the SAN and exporting the backup to tape. Push one button, and in a few hours go to the server room to pick up tapes. Having a huge number of boxes needing to run the backups themselves takes longer, and is generally more error prone.

Even for client production environments we recommend clients use Virtualisation. Most of our clients don't need bare metal performance, and it's generally better (cheaper, faster throughput) to simply clone an existing machine and load-balance the VMs, than go to bare-metal OS+app installs.

If something weird goes on with the production instance that we can't reproduce - we get snapshots sent over.

I'm not sure we could go back to pre-virtualisation now.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

sorak (246725) | about 5 years ago | (#29594067)

Someone mentioned server consolidation. Another purpose is that you can have each application run in it's dedicated environment. This reduces compatibility issues, provides flexibility, and has been used in one business for better load balancing in the event of equipment failure.

Let's say you have an email server and a web server on a single machine (small organization). If you need a new server, and had set this up without virtualization, then it may be difficult and time consuming to rebuild the new machine to have the exact same settings as the old one, and to move all of the email functionality to this new machine. With virtualization, it is as simple as having the new machine access the old email server image.

As another example, there is a large corporation near my home town. They use virtualization within their data center, and brag about the following:

You can ping one of their "servers", and unplug the machine.
The image that was loaded on this server will automatically be loaded on another system, and this other system will respond. One single packet will be lost, in the amount of time it takes to do this.

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | about 5 years ago | (#29594495)

Net admin can tell you lots of benefits, but IMHO everything boils down to:

VM is able to move from one machine to another but OS alone is not. All other benefits are either derived from this or possible to do without VM. Lets not forget that VM brings performance penalty. If Phoronix benchmark is valid, penalty is significant. So, ability to move running Linux OS (for example) around across machines would bring even more consolidation (more virtual servers running on single Linux machine as separate users) because lost performance would not be lost any more. In such case Linux would be able to take user X from machine A and move it to machine B. I think Plan 9 was designed along these lines..

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

dissy (172727) | about 5 years ago | (#29594637)

Instead of having app + OS you end up with app + VM + OS so how exactly is that benefiting anyone other than the power company for the extra electricity used?

I think you have that backwards.
How can using 8-10 TIMES less electricity be considered a benefit for the power company, whom makes more money the more electricity you use?

If you need 10 machines, and run 10 servers, all 10 are using power.

If you replace all 10 with just one server that uses 1/10th the power of the above setup, and run 10 VMs on it to replace those 10 real computers, you've just removed a decimal place from your power usage!

Re:How is using so many VMs more efficient? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 5 years ago | (#29596013)

I'm not an admin or work with VM administration, but I've read up on some of the "features" many of these have.

#1. One image to rule them all. Got new hardware and want to setup a webserver. Launch a preconfigured VM image and have a webserver setup and running in minutes on any new server

#2. VM running on a machine. Server dies, VM automatically transfers to a new server and continues to run. How this works, I'm not sure.

#3. Have 100 Web and DB servers running. Have your VM set to consolidate. The VM can automatically transfer low use instances to consolidate hardware. So servers 50-100 suddenly get transfered to servers 1-49 because it's off peak hours. Then the VM can power down the servers and you now have 50 servers not running. Company decides to run a promo and the servers start to get hit hard. VM remotely powers up a server and transfer's an image to help load balance.

#4. Since you're running everything over a SAN, a ton of this stuff is transparent

Someone had to say it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29591853)

Hallelujah it's raining VMs

No problems, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29591911)

1) They'll increase prices if it becomes more taxing
2) New instances will come slower, some vanishing because of increases prices
3) ????
4) Stable profit.

50k VMs/day is not THAT much... (3, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | about 5 years ago | (#29591927)

Lets give a 12 hour lifespan, and say 25K VMs at the same time.

At 5 VMs/physical host (I suspect it is MUCH denser actually), thats only 5K servers. At 50 servers/rack, its 100 racks.

Or, in translation, not THAT much.

Re:50k VMs/day is not THAT much... (1)

ajo_arctus (1215290) | about 5 years ago | (#29592337)

How can you say 100 racks per day is "Not that much"?! Imagine provisioning 100 racks every single day! -- what about cabling and power and all that stuff? What about network load -- never mind the basic data transfer during normal operation, each server loads its disk image from the SAN when it starts. These seem pretty amazing numbers to me.

Re:50k VMs/day is not THAT much... (1)

smallfries (601545) | about 5 years ago | (#29594425)

What makes you think that he did? If you are provisioning 100 racks a day it means that your total number of racks is increasing by 100/day. But if you read the subtlety in the GP's post

Lets give a 12 hour lifespan, and say 25K VMs at the same time.

then we find a subtle clue that these VMs don't live for ever. Admittedly we then have to understand his words to infer that they would only need 100 racks in total, rather than in addition every day. Go on, try it. Reading is fun. It's surprisingly informative when you get the hang of it.

I call shenanigans (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29592131)

My company tried to provision 10,000 amazon instances to perform scalability testing of our software that runs on many computers. The math was simple - 10,000 servers * $0.15 / hour = $1,500 / hour for testing. We liked the multiple OSes & versions (Linux - Redhat, SLES, Windows - 2000, 2003, 2008?) and software stacks (mysql, apache, websphere, sql server, iis, etc...) that we all available out of the box.

However, if you need more than 20 servers, you have to fill out a form. A sales rep and tech guy called to discuss our needs. It turns out that they could only handle around 1000 instance request across all data centers unless we "reserve" the machines at $300 / each, which blew the math - 10,000 servers * $300 = $3,000,000 to start.

Looking at the article, it is likely that people are re-requesting the same machine be started & stopped multiple times per day - 50,000 is probably off by an order of 10.

Re:I call shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29592767)

It might be semantics, but your math doesn't make sense to me. You want 10,000 instances; they want $300/machine. Unless "machine" means "virtual machine" in this case (I think of "machine" as physical unless it's prefixed), your math is off by a factor of X VM's/machine. Also, why would they raise the price (a whole freaking lot) on a volume customer?

Re:I call shenanigans (2, Insightful)

AlXtreme (223728) | about 5 years ago | (#29593427)

Even if it was $300/machine with 20VMs/machine it would be quite costly to reserve 500 machines.

They raise the price because they can't scale that much on a dime. They probably have to add hundreds of machines a day in order to keep up with the demand for EC2 instances, you can't expect them to keep thousands of machines ready in case someone wants to figure out how high the cloud really scales. It would simply cost too much.

No matter the cloud-hype, in the end Amazon and every other hosting supplier have to limit the amount a customer can provision. Want to go above that limit? No problem, but we'll have to hook up some additional machines in advance.

The cloud is a leaky interface.

Stock Exchange (2, Interesting)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | about 5 years ago | (#29592453)

I went to an Amazon's AWS talk in NYC a couple months ago where they brought some start-ups in to talk about their projects, the cloud and how the cloud helped them build their applications faster and better. During the opening talk, the speaker showed some use-cases, one including the New York Stock Exchange and how, at the closing bell, they provision over 3000 EC2 instances to crunch numbers overnight to be ready for the next morning.

A guy from a startup that I was talking to before we were seated was talking about how his company keeps between 5 and 10 instances up all the time for their application (dynamically bringing them up and down to scale with demand) and how they frequently had 4 and 5 sets of these servers running on the side for testing (20-40 instances at a time). He was talking about the metrics they were using to keep track of their use and how it was flawed due to the fact that they had hundreds of instances a day going up and down all the time.

Just because 50,000 instances are started per day doesn't mean that those 50,000 instances are running for any period of time. I frequently bring up an instance, tweak some things, create an image, then bring it down... or bring up an instance to test something for 20 minutes, then bring it down. EC2 has really benefitted my QA/Testing/Experimentation in that I really have an unlimited pool of resources to play with. It's a much more robust system than I have at home with VMWare... vmware was a gamechanger for me since before that, I had 2 physical servers at home and stacks of 40GB and 60GB HDs with multliple versions of OSs on them.

Of course AWS isn't for everyone. EC2 can be expensive for what they offer and the biggest advantage to AWS's services are that they are on-demand and work really well with applications that need to scale up AND down in real-time. If you've got an application that doesn't require to-the-minute scaling responses, it's less expensive to get a physical dedicated server with Xen on it and create your own virtual infrastructure... although if you don't have the skills or time to learn the tools, then AWS offers a much better learning curve.

Define "Objects" (3, Informative)

Dersaidin (954402) | about 5 years ago | (#29593119)

Objects?

"Objects" doesn't mean VMs, objects can be files, processes, etc.

High performance Computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29593715)

I wonder if high performance computing like ray tracing ( http://www.raytracing.ch )
or the things you find at http://cnx.org/content/m19804/latest/ can be done with this service.

Re:High performance Computing (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about 5 years ago | (#29595407)

I wonder if high performance computing like ray tracing ( http://www.raytracing.ch/ [raytracing.ch] )

Ray tracing can be done on a 386. It'll just take a very, very long time.

I don't see a problem with reimplementing ray tracing for the Amazon cloud being a problem.

Re:High performance Computing (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#29595975)

Probably (ask Amazon, not us! Duh), but it's not really designed for that kind of use. It's more designed for web/database services that need to scale up and down rapidly. You're charged for CPU time used, so if you're really slamming their CPUs, your bill goes up to match.

If you're, for example, Pixar, and you know exactly how much CPU power you'll need for 5 year blocks at a time, then this isn't going to save you any money, it'll be vastly more expensive. If you're some on-demand service that does a crazy rush of rendering one week in 30, then Amazon might be a better option. Might. You'd still have to run the numbers.

bit?ch (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29595131)

Ass until I hit my Wou ld you like to filed countersuit, Notorious OpenBSD

Why Linux supporters should love VMs (1)

jd.schmidt (919212) | about 5 years ago | (#29595985)

There are even more reasons to be very interested in VM and the Cloud model.

Remember VM's can run anywhere, so while they CAN run at Amazon, they don't have to. They can run local or at a competitor. You choose where they are at and can move them based on your needs when you want to.

Also Linux servers can live on the same box as Windows! And since all you care about is the applications, maybe you don't really care so much what OS it uses. Maybe the config needed to run the OS can be bundled with the application config and the users just sees that, and the OS is mostly pre configured to run that application. Maybe then you don't need a giant do everthing OS, just the OS to run your application and no overhead. Maybe you now don't have to care if MS plays nice with your app.

VM is about creating an isolated location for an OS and applications, gaining hardware indepedence at the same time. Mainframers have understoord and been doing this for years, Java virtual machines were another attempt at the same thing. I don't know all the nitty gritty of why some isolation schemes work better than others, all I know is VM and hypervisors seem to finally have gotten it right.

P.S. every time someone mentions VM a Mainframer loses his wings.

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