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114 comments

cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34173972)

Virtual machines are not true cloud computing. Please stop calling it that.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174046)

It would be great if there were some cloud provider (or other name if you like), actually providing the services for VMs that we've had for years for physical machines on our desk :

-> screen access without propietary .exe (and not-windows-only) (why not via pure javascript ?)
-> a way to unplug-replug-reconfigure network

I mean even things like terramark don't provide this very basic service. Amazon is cute, if you don't mind rewriting everything in your business from scratch. And google, well Google App Engine makes amazon look flexible : proprietary API (yes - with a compatibility layer), only approved scripting languages ...

Re:cloud vs VM (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174172)

Yes Google App Engine is a good example of true cloud computing. Say what you want about the limitations, but it is cloud computing.

Saying Google App Engine makes Amazon look flexible is nonsense. Apples and oranges. The upside of App Engine is that it really is cloud computing, so you actually get all of the benefits that we keep hearing about.

How could Google have done it differently and pleased you? How could they not have approved languages, when they needed to modify them to make them cloud capable? Do you expect to just toss a mysql instance and a few perl scripts into a magical cloud machine and watch it take off?

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174454)

Well, that's great and all, but if that is cloud computing, then why am I supposed to be interested ?

I want a "server in the cloud", that works preferably just like a server on my desk, except with a faster internet connection and better cooling etc.

But it still needs to do things like letting me see it's screen, replug, reconfigure the network, add/remove disks, ...

The advantages of the cloud would be :
-> ridiculous disk sizes possible (and for-rent - no capital cost)
-> no capital investment
-> someone else does hardware repair (and does it promptly)
-> fast scaling, that means fast access to more & bigger memory, cpu, disk, ...

How would that not provide the cloud benefits to me ? Perhaps you see the cloud as providing different benefits, but frankly I see little to no advantage to "automatic" scaling (and I have enough experience in the software world to understand that "automatic scaling" is about as accurate as "yes we can")

Re:cloud vs VM (4, Informative)

sycorob (180615) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174686)

As far as I can tell, what you're looking for is just virtual hosting, with a few specific requirements. I would think you could find all of those requirements, although I'll concede that a lot of options available today kind of suck.

"Cloud Computing" in my understanding is in fact all about the automatic scaling. I want to do a proof of concept online, and then show it to a few potential clients. I want it to basically be turned off when I'm not using it, and scale up quickly if my clients start hammering it. I only want to pay for what gets used. If I'm not using it, sell that capacity to somebody else, and keep my costs down.

If your're a full-fledged business, and you want responsiveness, and you want to guarantee a certain level of service to your clients, then cloud hosting may not be the best bet, or even the cheapest. You could still use it for special cases though. I heard a neat example: this guy needed to convert several million images into thumbnails. He wrote a little service to do it, hosted it in the cloud, let it scale way up, and churned through all the images in a few days, and it cost him a few hundred bucks on his corporate credit card. The time and expense to set up dedicated servers for this one-off task would have been ridiculous.

Like every damn thing in computer science (and really, life) cloud computing is not the solution to all of our problems, and it's also not a complete waste of time. It's a useful tool, to be used when appropriate.

Ooo! Car analogy! If you commute every day by car, you should probably buy a car. If you take the train to work and just need the car for the occasional trip to Target, then a car-sharing service might work for you.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174836)

Well then "cloud computing" is simply a return to the mainframe world of old and nothing more.

A few new API's, a bigger network, somewhat better tools (thank God ! All the devils in hell couldn't make tools less useful than the old unisys mainframes - too cruel)

And of course it retains all the old downsides to mainframe computing - inflexible in the extreme (like GAE) - everything is payable, metered - huge infrastructure costs for everyone involved - totally dependant on access to centralized infrastructure - and your data is basically unsecured outside of your property - and there's no telling when, how or why the central system will go down (remember standing in line at city hall for 6 hours because "the server is down" ?)

What has changed ?

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175000)

In the case of GAE "the server" is thousands upon thousands of small servers, not a giant mainframe that rests in a single physical location. Also, GAE isn't THAT inflexible except in the persistence portion. It's not the end all be all solution for everything. I would go for a more "conventional" solution for my random small business home page/online store. If I wanted to run weather simulations, perhaps even serious number crunching on my Facebook data, etc. etc. I might rent space out of the cloud instead of provisioning physical servers in my network. If you're doing anything at the scale at which the cloud computing stuff is really beneficial you're doing a LOT of custom code anyways so the uniqueness of GAE isn't a big deal.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175196)

In the case of GAE "the server" is thousands upon thousands of small servers, not a giant mainframe that rests in a single

By the middle of the mainframe era the same could be said about mainframes. You even had worldwide-distributed mainframes.

One thing though : their database features blew what GAE provides out of the water in terms of consistency guarantees (even if not in speed. Then again, that was 20 years ago).

If I wanted to run weather simulations, perhaps even serious number crunching on my Facebook data, etc. etc. I might rent space out of the cloud instead of provisioning physical servers in my network. If you're doing anything at the scale

I seriously doubt things like Amazon or GAE will beat even small compute clusters available at universities, both in max. capacity and (especially) price, you know, the data crunchers specially designed for the task. Especially when considering price, amazon really charges boatloads of cash for relatively trivial resources.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175396)

Sorry about replying to my own post, but unless I'm mistaken the main reason GNU was started was to get away from these big (networked) mainframe installations and the hyper-clunky and hyper-propriatary nature of their available tools. Certainly today's cloud systems have the same problem.

Apparently they had the same downsides as today's cloud services. Data goes in fine - but it doesn't come out again.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175480)

I seriously doubt things like Amazon or GAE will beat even small compute clusters available at universities

That was true until recently - Amazon now has "HPC" capabilities. [amazon.com] While not extremely impressive (yet?), you can indeed rapidly beat out any small compute cluster at a university now - at a fraction of the cost, too. Now instead of having a cluster that takes weeks to give you results, takes lots of man-hours to build and maintain, and spends only part of it's time being used...you can spin up (in minutes) a cluster that can do the work, then you can release the nodes and you're no longer paying.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

bberens (965711) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176356)

I also recall them announcing a while back that you could get preferred pricing if you were willing to let your compute cycles occur during off-hours. Sounds like a win-win.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179096)

Amazon's "HPC" capabilities don't measure up to even a small university compute cluster. You can get 64 cores - no more (tiny ISP's have more - out of necessity).

How much can it really scale up ?

Now instead of having a cluster that takes weeks to give you results, takes lots of man-hours to build and maintain, and spends only part of it's time being used...you can spin up (in minutes) a cluster that can do the work, then you can release the nodes and you're no longer paying.

Except a compute cluster that beats the crap out of the amazon cluster nodes (due to gpu performance) costs about $1500 per node. So every company with a need for these things can easily get a 10 or 20 node cluster going. You'd have much more bandwith to the local cluster than you'd have to the amazon cloud as a bonus.

And, again, the maximum cluster you'll spin up "in minutes" is 64 cores, no more. That's pathetic.

How much cluster instance time can you get for $1500 ? About 800 hours ... just a little over a month. And keep in mind that for most calculating jobs, the GPU will beat the crap out of even an 8-core xeon, meaning 1 local node will replace 2 or 3 amazon cluster instances in raw power.

And, given that compute-intensive jobs are generally longer-running types of things (weeks at the very least), you'd run a huge profit over amazon with your local cluster pretty fast.

(and IBM's solution is a lot better for computing. At least that solution beats a small cluster. Additionally, IBM delivers consultancy that most people will need to figure out how to write efficient parallel computing programs in the first place.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175786)

"Especially when considering price, amazon really charges boatloads of cash for relatively trivial resources."

How they won't while there are not real competitors? Cloud computing by current standards (that's to say, those stablished by Amazon) has big entry costs but, if you really think Amazon is really so much overcharging, hey, that's your opportunity of becoming millonaire by downpricing them!

Re:cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174700)

One of the defining characteristics of cloud computing is that you don't know where one machine ends and another begins. That is what makes it "cloud". It isn't just flexibly scalable, it is fluid.

If you want to share resources, go for it. Build a huge server and have a bunch of VMs. Or hire someone else who builds the servers and rents you the resources. I don't care. You can have that without calling it cloud computing, just like someone else can have limewire without calling it "getting music from the web".

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175392)

Well, that's great and all, but if that is cloud computing, then why am I supposed to be interested ?

if you're not interested, then fine - you don't need it then.

I'm not interested in buying a purse, but that doesn't mean I want purses redefined until they're something I'm interested in. I'm not interested in buying lipstick, but that doesn't mean I want to redefine lipstick until it suits my needs, or scoff at anyone else who would want to use lipstick.

That you don't have a need for it, doesn't matter. You were clearly not the target audience.

But it still needs to do things like letting me see it's screen, replug, reconfigure the network, add/remove disks, ...

No. It doesn't. That's not cloud computing. Buy a desktop, attach a monitor to it. Now you can see the screen, reconfigure the network, etc. You're thinking of a particular singular instance, and missing the *entire* point.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

jsdcnet (724314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34180156)

I want a "server in the cloud", that works preferably just like a server on my desk, except with a faster internet connection and better cooling etc.

But it still needs to do things like letting me see it's screen, replug, reconfigure the network, add/remove disks, ...

The advantages of the cloud would be : -> ridiculous disk sizes possible (and for-rent - no capital cost) -> no capital investment -> someone else does hardware repair (and does it promptly) -> fast scaling, that means fast access to more & bigger memory, cpu, disk, ...

Congratulations, you just described Amazon AWS.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175340)

that crap exists. It's not cloud. You're looking for Slicehost [slicehost.com] . They have a webconsole you can use to log in, disable networking, re-enable networking, the whole bit.

I don't get why people think that "cloud" merely means "hosted VM" when, in fact, it means nothing of the sort. If system 148 of a cluster of 250 stops responding, your cloud shouldn't notice or care; it should die automatically, and get replaced automatically. If you're beholden to the health of a particular system, then it's not Cloud Computing. If you can't control and access the resources with simple REST, then it's not cloud. If it's a glass of water, it's not a cloud.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

substack (1937426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175764)

My startup is launching a service to do this for browsers pretty soon and the tech is flexible enough to repurpose for more typical VM tasks later. Here's a screenshot: http://i.imgur.com/UXBdJ.png [imgur.com] The final version runs the browsers in kiosk mode to save screen real estate taken up by the window decoration and start menu. http://browserling.com/ [browserling.com]

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176248)

The subject says it all. WHat you're looking for is a VM - full desktop control. Cloud computing (as it's generally used) means "providing computing horsepower for your use" - the means of delivery and usage may vary. On the other hand, VMs provide pseudo-dedicated hardware equivalents for your exclusive use - including desktop use if that's what you want.

Shut up (4, Insightful)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174320)

Cloud Computing is such a loosely-defined and heavily abused term that its "true meaning" is almost as open to interpretation as "Web 2.0," and virtualised resources are often included in the definition.

The ever-colloquial Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] states that it "typically involves over-the-Internet provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources" while Foldoc [reference.com] states that it is "A loosely defined term for any system providing access via the Internet to processing power, storage, software or other computing services."

I'm fine with people debating the issue of the term's definition and provenance, even with people saying that one meaning is correct and another isn't, but flatly denying the existence of controversy without bothering to cite your authority is not conducive to anyone's understanding. Please, explain your position rather than simply stating it.

Re:Shut up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174412)

The problem is, virtual machines are already defined. Have been for decades. Plugging a network cable into them doesn't magically make them cloud computing.

Companies that want to sell cloud computing, but don't have the technical expertise to create a true cloud environment (like Google App Engine) are just "clouding" the definition by selling VMs as if it was cloud computing.

Re:Shut up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174488)

It's not just VMs. It's VMs that run in a managed environment that can scale, including moving to other physical servers, with separate storage, etc... it's complete separate of the server OS from the server hardware. It means you don't have to worry about exactly where the VM is running or if it moves to another physical system.

I am fully capable of running the hardware of a server, but I love using Rackspace's Cloud hosting because I don't have to worry about it. I can deploy servers and apps within minutes, as many as I need/want, and don't have to worry about where exactly they are.

This kind of set up is far more than just a virtual machine on a host.

Re:Shut up (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175898)

Personally, I'm just glad to see a reasonable and thoughtful *discussion* of what "Cloud Computing" is and how it could be (or might not be) useful; rather than the usual Slashdot knee jerk hatred for the entire concept. I'm sure that if I scroll down far enough I'll find a screed about how awful Cloud Computing is, and how no companies or governments would ever give up control of their data this way (despite the fact that many do); but for now I'm pretty happy to see people talking about the usefulness of particular services and what the formal definition of the tern could or should be.

Re:Shut up (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176536)

The US government just awarded a large contract (or set of contracts) for IaaS:

Here [federalnewsradio.com]

They have 11 vendors - one of which is a company that is using AWS under the hood.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174362)

The notion that there is an entity called "true cloud computing" is largely nonsense. "Cloud Computing" is just a buzzword, which covers a continuum of things: At one extreme you have essentially classical virtual private server offerings; but with an API instead of a sales rep for provisioning. At the other extreme you have fully abstracted services like "email" with absolute opacity about what goes on under the hood.

Trying to define "cloud computing" is rather like trying to come up with a good definition of "species". We know a great deal about the actual objects we are talking about; but the definition is a matter of convenience, rather than some platonic essence to be discovered.

Re:cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174584)

As undefined a term as "cloud computing" is, trying to include different pokemon characters in the definition of species would be similar to including VMs in the definition of cloud computing.

We might not know _exactly_ what it is, but we know what it isn't. Calling everything "cloud" is just ignorant. It is like saying "my web connection is down" when your DSL provider has an outage.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174664)

I don't think that the situation is nearly as clear cut as your example.

Something like Gmail is clearly a "cloud" service. It offers email through either web, pop3, or IMAP interfaces with essentially complete abstraction of what goes on underneath.

Amazon, for its part, offers VMs, of various sizes, with essentially complete abstraction of what is underneath, accessible by means of one or more nearly frictionless programmatic ordering methods(as opposed to calling your account rep or filling out a PO or something). It is certainly a very different level of granularity, and there are definitions of "cloud computing" that could meaningfully exclude it; but there are other, equally meaningful and potentially useful, definitions that could include it.

Re:cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174792)

A scalable VM is just a scalable VM. If it does the job for you, awesome.

I know how overhyped buzzwords work, and I have no chance of getting people to agree with me on this. I accept that.

Re:cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34175578)

pop/imap/web (before that, text) access for email is 25 years old. If that's clearly a cloud service, what isn't?

Re:cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178640)

The protocols used are not relevant. The fact that you can connect to any one of a million Google servers using these protocols and it won't matter which one is what makes it cloud computing. You will get the same data. All servers are acting like a single one. If your data isn't on the server you connected to, it will be there a second later and served up like it was there all along. You will never get a "sorry, the server your email is hosted on is currently down" message while a friend of yours logs in to gmail without a problem.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175854)

"Something like Gmail is clearly a "cloud" service."

Yes. Of the SaaS kind.

"Amazon, for its part"

Is cloud computing too, of the IaaS kind.

How this gets so hard to understand?

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175142)

We might not know _exactly_ what it is, but we know what it isn't. Calling everything "cloud" is just ignorant.

It's a desirable sort of ignorance though - the whole point is a layered design so above a certain level the implementer doesn't need to think about the hardware. Sure, behind the magic curtain will be a team of people create the "cloud" abstraction, to whom it's all very concrete and not cloudy at all. Call it "ignorance" if you like, but in computer science we use the euphemism "separation of concerns" :)

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175738)

"Virtual machines are not true cloud computing."

True.

But virtual machines plus on-demand self-servicing, plus elasticity on the number of deployed machines, plus per usage billing *is* cloud computing (of the IaaS kind, to be precise).

And that's exactly what they are asking for.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175770)

VMs are a building block of a cloud computing environment. Definitions vary, but you can read Gartner's definition of Cloud [gartner.com] , for example.

- Service interfaces
- Scalable and elastic
- Shared
- Metered by use
- Delivered over the Internet

So a VM is necessary but not sufficient; a VM is what you get when you virtualize an underlying resource pool. If you virtualize a pool of hardware, you get an elastic pool of shared compute resources; but there still needs to be more coordination to supply an API, metering, etc.

Beyond IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), there are additional cloud tiers - Platform as a Service (Google Apps for example), and Software as a Service (salesforce.com, or Google Apps for your Domain).

Re:cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178176)

I think you are missing the point when you say a "VM is necessary but not sufficient". Do you think Google runs gmail in a VM? Do you think they aren't true cloud computing? Do you think Google App Engine apps run in a VM?

Certainly App Engine apps are kept separate from each other and from other Google apps, similar to a shared hosting environment though - not through VMs.

What is necessary but not sufficient is a machine. Bare hardware or virtual, it doesn't matter. You can do cloud computing in a VM with Amazon or on bare hardware like Google does. Does this mean bare hardware is cloud computing? Clearly Google does a great job without VMs.

This is the point I am trying to make here. What makes something undeniably "cloud" has nothing to do with virtual machines. It is true that VMs can have scalable memory, bandwidth, storage space, etc. Someone else maintains the hardware. All of this is great, and SIMILAR TO cloud computing.

Re:cloud vs VM (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178938)

I was unclear. I was referring to Infrastructure as a Service Cloud. (Although newservers.com, for example, bills as "bare metal cloud", and comes very close to meeting the Gartner definition.)

And GAE and Gmail are definitely cloud services - a PaaS service and a SaaS service, respectively.

But there is a difference between a VM, and an IaaS Cloud service, even though ~all IaaS services will have a VM layer underpinning them.

Re:cloud vs VM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34179038)

Why not call it infrastructure as a service and leave it at that then? Why the need to call it cloud? I'm sure it is very handy to have real or virtual machines that are easy to acquire and dispose of as needed, and I'm not against it. I just don't see the need to call it cloud.

Cloud is a very specific way of writing a networked server (typically web) application. It is a software concept, not hardware. The hardware is needed, but not what makes it cloud.

Sometimes you need real hardware (5, Interesting)

jwthompson2 (749521) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174140)

They missed the fact that RackSpace offers hybrid cloud options that Amazon just can't match at this point. Got IO issues? So did GitHub when they were running on Amazon's infrastructure. Know how they solved it? They moved to Rackspace and married the cloud for front-end with physical hardware for their IO intense workloads. It seems to me these guys may just be naive. They've probably only sidestepped their problems for now.

Re:Sometimes you need real hardware (4, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174304)

They missed the fact that RackSpace offers hybrid cloud options that Amazon just can't match at this point. Got IO issues? So did GitHub when they were running on Amazon's infrastructure. Know how they solved it? They moved to Rackspace and married the cloud for front-end with physical hardware for their IO intense workloads. It seems to me these guys may just be naive. They've probably only sidestepped their problems for now.

To be fair if they have probably solved their problems, in that Amazon cloud is extremely horizontally scalable. It is a typical "throw money at it" solution, like someone who has sent a package by motorcycle courtier solving the problem of shifting 10,000 packages between warehouses by hiring 10,000 motorcycle couriers - but it will probably work for them.

Re:Sometimes you need real hardware (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174764)

Isn't "throw money at the problem" the whole point of "extensible" cloud computing?

Re:Sometimes you need real hardware (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175062)

Isn't "throw money at the problem" the whole point of "extensible" cloud computing?

Yes. "Scalable" in cloud computing is usually interpreted to mean "scales linearly with amount of money applied". As long as the amount of benefit you're getting from it is also scaling at least linearly, that's an acceptable trade-off.

Can't solve for noisy neighbors with horizontal (3, Interesting)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175718)

You can't just keep scaling horizontally to avoid noisy neighbors. The problem is, unlike with cpu and memory, Amazon doesn't currently have a way to control how many IOPs one tenant has. You might even scale up from 2 "servers" to 4, and end up with the same neighbor because you're on the same underlying hardware. Plus, the issue is: it's not predictable. You might have great IOPs at one point, and then some other tenant starts consuming a bunch of them and there's contention, and your performance degrades.

Re:Sometimes you need real hardware (1)

XorNand (517466) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175534)

I use both Rackspace and EC2 for different applications. One big advantage of Rackspace (Slicehost) for smaller projects is the ability to assign multiple public IPs to a single instance. This comes in handy when running multiple SSL websites without needing to spin up an additional instance.

Re:Sometimes you need real hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34176484)

Github was on EngineYard, not Amazon

Re: (2, Interesting)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174146)

Interesting discussion. Perhaps more companies could make business out of their spare resources as Amazon does.

Also funny, in the comments section with GoGrid.com trolling with a $100 coupon code. Way to sweeten the pot...

Re: Priceline for cloud! (1)

robipilot (925650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174928)

What we really need is William Shatner pitching "name your own price" for cloud resources. Yes, you CAN get cycles in a four-star data center located near the major metro area you've selected. I like the resources being commodities - more options, cheaper options. Yum!

Re: Priceline for cloud! (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175398)

I'll start a competing service where a gnome statue touts rack space where the deer and the antelope play

Re: Priceline for cloud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34175418)

Amazon has that ..

With amazon you can buy a 'reserved' instance .. You pay some $$$ up front for a period of time and then a smaller price per hour. Works out to about 75% of the cost of leaving an instance running all the time. With very little benefit to turning it off.

If for some reason your model changes you can place your reserved instances up for bid and allow someone else to use that resource for some amount of $$ ..

Re: Priceline for cloud! (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176468)

At least for a small instance, a reserved instance running full time for 3 years is 50% (50.8%, to be exact) of the cost of 3 years of full usage of an on demand instance. .085*24*365 = 744.6

(.03*24*365)+(350/3) = 378.666

Is the annual cost comparison.

Re: (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175804)

Amazon is not running a cloud with their spare resources. I believe I heard at one point that someone (Zynga?) was running 10,000 VMs on amazon at once. And that's one customer. Amazon is trying to be THE host of the future. Which is funny, since their other business is retail.

But make no mistake - 10 years from now, Amazon could easily be known as the Cloud Infrastructure provider, who also happens to do some retail. (Or less than 10.)

Rackspace and Open Source (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174188)

What's missing here is mention of Rackspace's recent effort with NASA on OpenStack. In short, Rackspace recently Open Sourced their Cloud Storage infrastructure, called Swift.

Colocation? (3, Insightful)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174236)

The problem with these solutions is they sell you services like a prepaid phone company to abstract the real cost.

My company has done the math and unless you only need the capacity say, 3 hours out of the day, EC2 (and Rackspace) simply can't compete with running your own hardware. We've heard the arguments about hiring engineers, buying servers, and renting space, but even after those expenses you still come out ahead if you have roughly more than 20 machines.

Also, Rackspace and Amazon sell Xen virtualization hosting. The software is open source and freely available if you want to use it for yourself. I just guess "Cloud Hosting" sounds better but it's not that hard to roll a similar setup if you want the scalability.

Re:Colocation? (2, Informative)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174264)

Or you need to scale from 100 to 100,000 users in two days.

Re:Colocation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174386)

And that happens all the time *rollseyes*

Re:Colocation? (1)

Oceanplexian (807998) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174482)

Not only is that highly unlikely, but how many boxes is that for your webapp? 20?

I don't know about you but I could rack and deploy 20 production servers in a day. One phone call to my ISP and we're in business.

Personally I'm more concerned with building a profitable company than infinite scalability. By rolling our own gear that puts us ahead a little bit more. I think that these cloud providers are neat, but only for a 1-off solution or a distributed computer problem -- not for running your whole business.

Re:Colocation? (1)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175244)

Also, if you consciously try to keep your code as efficient as possible and run it on something that isn't abstracted 10 frameworks deep, scalability suddenly becomes much less of a problem.

Re:Colocation? (1)

Pastis (145655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175474)

Do you really think you can scale that easily ? Just by keeping the code efficient and avoiding frameworks ? Mmmm

Scaling is not just about your application. It's about the network, the bandwidth, the infrastructure (hardware and software - load balancing, caching, etc), getting rid of single point of failures, etc. This requires resources and knowldedge to handle. Once you start dealing with all that, the performance of your code is just one of your problems.

Re:Colocation? (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174484)

I don't think that, with the fairly classical "cloud" guys like Amazon, who offer essentially Virtual Private Server products; but with automated provisioning, the argument has ever been about much more than flexibility. The more abstracted "cloud" people(gmail, google docs, etc.) can make the management complexity argument, since they offer highly abstract services with all the gory details hidden; but Amazon basically just tosses you a Linux VM and leaves you to deal with it from there. The only attraction is that, unlike classic VPS, you don't have to talk to a sales rep, just an API.

Given that with Amazon, all their EC2 stuff is either uber-commodity linux VMs or available for local hosting via the Eucalyptus project(their storage mechanism, etc.) it is possible to adopt a hybrid "base load/burst load" strategy, similar to how the electrical utilities do it. If your operation has a more or less steady base load, you run it on cheap boxes of your own. If you have a load spike, you use the expensive; but quick to spin up, EC2 instances. Since modern virtualization overhead is low, and virtualization is extremely convenient anyway, you don't lose to much, you don't pay Amazon a flexibility fee for things you don't need to be flexible; but you can swiftly pay for additional capacity that works just like your local capacity, and then stop paying when you no longer need it.

If you need long-term, stable levels of service, you'd be insane to buy it from a burst-service company, just as very heavy cell users would be nuts to buy a contractless per-minute plan. Either do it in house or hire a hosting company to do it for you, on a stable basis.

Re:Colocation? (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#34179916)

Except, of course, in order to do that you'll need to write your application in a certain way. You'd have to implement all sorts of things (like tunnels into amazon, but that's the very least of your worries). An application basically has to be written for the amazon cloud in order to function on top of it. Very different costs from having

So there are lots of extremely non-trivial costs associated with doing what you say. Lots of hoops to jump through, all of them cost money (even if your time is free, they'll still cost money).

Re:Colocation? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174688)

We've heard the arguments about hiring engineers, buying servers, and renting space, but even after those expenses you still come out ahead if you have roughly more than 20 machines.

Except for the fact that hiring those engineers, buying those servers, and renting that space will be met with great resistance in most organizations. HR wont allow the extra headcount, legal is concerned about the safety of the space you're renting or some other BS, etc., etc. It's all a big headache and even if you decide to go through with it, it will take you weeks or even months to get off the ground.

But paying a monthly bill to Amazon? Nobody cares and you can have a new server running in minutes.

Re:Colocation? (1)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174762)

The cloud is a revolution in billing. Not only do you sidestep all the HR/legal faff, you can bill the hosting cost to the department that uses the application instead of IT, it's impossible to price match competitors since you don't know how much it's going to cost until after you start the app. If someone writes crap code it auto spins up more instances and the hosting bill goes up, rather than someone having to write a document justifying additional expenditure.

Re:Colocation? (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176602)

There are a lot of vendors providing appliances now that recognize this, and especially now that VMware has entered the cloud market with their cloud director product, you can expect to see an even bigger proliferation of appliances. Want to run LogLogic? Don't buy a box, push a "deploy appliance" button at your provider. What, your new group needs a sharepoint server? Push buttan.

Or.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34180048)

you're just lazy.

Re:Colocation? (2, Informative)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176048)

(1) You just assumed that your use case was all use cases. Here's an example of a company I've done work for that is in the cloud. They have software that maps 2d face photos onto 3d models and then can render video out in flash that is customized for the user. (If you tried Nike's world cup you-in-the-advertisement video ad, that was them.) Can you imagine how variable demand is if your cpu utilization goes up 10,000% when a client pushes an ad to market, versus when you're largely idle and doing demos and handling light consumer demand? That's burstability.

(2) On a lesser scale, many sites may have huge variation on when they have high traffic. I'm sure we can find a lot of sites that are insanely busy in the evening from, say, 5-9pm, and basically idle all night long.

(3) Many organizations - larger ones - need to supply temporary environments, like dev & test/QA build environments. They need to spin them up to test applications and then dump them. They might be utilized 20 hours/month, but be under heavy load for those 20 hours. Did your calculations take into account needing an entire copy of your production site for 20 hours a day for dev & test?

This is just a few of many examples. Outside of Amazon, cloud computing also is used internally. I know of one large bank that got rid of 30,000 desktop machines in favor of 10,000 racked servers and KMS services. By day, the KMS services serve desktops to users, and IT never has to go touch an end user computer again. By night - so 15-16 hours a day - all that cpu, instead of sitting idle and being wasted, is scooped up by the software running their financial modeling software, so it number crunches all night long. It's like a triple win - easy to administer "desktops", less actual machines, and a bunch of extra compute power for their number crunching farm.

So, you may have done the math for your use case, but there are companies which could easily afford to build out datacenter space, and instead are using huge amounts of cloud resources instead.

Re:Colocation? (1)

olau (314197) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176772)

Amazon is really expensive. Did you do the math with less expensive services like gandi.net, vps.net, xlshosting.com, jiffybox.de?

Locked Out (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174312)

I locked myself out of a server the other day hosted on rackspace. I was able to console it from the management interface and fix the issue, not sure if I could have recovered that on ec2.

Re:Locked Out (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174850)

By blowing it away and spinning a new VM, EC2 machines are by their design expendable resources.

Re:Locked Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174978)

I was able to console it from the management interface

I'm so glad you could make it feel better with just your keystrokes! :D

Re:Locked Out (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178198)

Just spawn a new one, attach your data to it, then kill your old. Sure it takes ~15 minutes, but you act like it's impossible.

Proofreading is a concept... (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174314)

If you are going to post a "missive to the world" slamming someone's product, you ought to at least proofread it. It's just a bit embarrassing that the very first sentence doesn't make any sense. “...our hardware is” - yes, it's very existential hardware.

Serving as your local grammar nazi today...

Re:Proofreading is a concept... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34175048)

Or you could run the sentence by a reading comprehension Nazi to make sure you're not jumping to conclusions. In that sentence, they explain that both where their hardware is located as well as the platform they use are becoming ever more important.

You just can't beat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174334)

a good Rack !

Come on George (3, Funny)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174458)

Seriously, get some good writers BESIDES yourself and get actors who can actually ACT! And while you're at it, less CGI would be good and a couple more space battles....eh...what?
Oh, 'The Cloud Wars' isn't the title of the next Star Wars movie? Oh, sorry.

Cloud Wars (2, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174478)

It is a period of civil war. Rebel Linux admins, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Microsoft Empire. During the battle, GNU spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, ISS, a system that brings any self-respecting admin to tears. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Tove Torvalds races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the network.

Re:Cloud Wars (1)

egamma (572162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174648)

It is a period of civil war. Rebel Linux admins, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Microsoft Empire. During the battle, GNU spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, ISS, a system that brings any self-respecting admin to tears. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Tove Torvalds races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the network.

Do you mean IIS? Or are you talking about that moon orbiting overhead?

That's no moon... (1)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174780)

Do you mean IIS? Or are you talking about that moon orbiting overhead?

That's no moon... It's a Space Station!

Re:Cloud Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178202)

It is a period of civil war. Rebel Linux admins, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Microsoft Empire. During the battle, GNU spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire’s ultimate weapon, ISS, a system that brings any self-respecting admin to tears. Pursued by the Empire’s sinister agents, Tove Torvalds races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the network.

Did anyone else read this in the voice of the narrator from Rebel Assault? Complete with the high level of white noise in the recording from the game?

Amazon has that last 1% (1)

QuantumBeep (748940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174626)

The difference between a great idea and a billion dollars is that last 1% of the implementation - the distance between "cool" and "perfect".

I think Amazon may have bridged that gap.

Re:Amazon has that last 1% (1)

MattW (97290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176292)

Amazon's offering is great, but it has a long way to go to perfect. If you use a VMware cloud director based cloud service, you start to get a feel for how much more can be done. For example, as soon as you can just click on a VM and have a full keyboard-mouse-screen console pop up, you start to wonder why you'd want to live without it.

meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34174852)

Every other day there's an article linked to from Hacker News about "Why I did XXX" or "Why I switched from XXX" Usually they're pretty lame. I saw this yesterday and thought it was the lame even by H.N. standards.

Huh? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34174962)

You gotta be kidding me ... this story has been up for over an hour, and nobody has said ... "begun, the cloud war has".

I assumed that was the whole purpose of the title? :-P Or is everyone else disavowing knowledge of Episodes 2&3. ;-)

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34175034)

You gotta be kidding me ... this story has been up for over an hour, and nobody has said ... "begun, the cloud war has".

I assumed that was the whole purpose of the title? :-P Or is everyone else disavowing knowledge of Episodes 2&3. ;-)

Yes. And 1.

Re:Huh? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175102)

"Or is everyone else disavowing knowledge of Episodes 2&3. ;-)"

Yes. And 1.

Bah, you can't disavow episode 1 -- how else can you vent spleen at Jar Jar Binks?

Like it or not, it happened. :-P

No SSL at Google (1)

Kagato (116051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34175652)

Biggest issue is I have with Google cloud is it's not secure using your own domain name. You have to use google's SSL address and that doesn't fly for a lot of people.

Punctuation and Grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34175794)

The first sentence of the note [mixpanel.com] reads:

"At Mixpanel, where our hardware is and the platform we use to help us scale has become increasingly important."

I had to read that thing a few times, and mentally insert commas, before it made any sense. There are a number of sentences that display a similar lack of punctuation and proper grammar.

I have always been of the opinion that if you are going to talk smack about someone, do it with style.

I feel much better now. ...

yuo Fail It (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34175972)

a super-org4nised Don't walk around

Rackspace Cloud is the worst service I've had... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34176734)

Rackspace is generally known for great service, so I didn't hesitate to sign up and start using their cloud service for a business idea. Unfortunately, Rackspace Cloud was essentially another company that Rackspace bought and did not fully integrate or bring up to their own standards.

The several months that I had them before I migrated, I experienced:
1) Horrible technical support and the inability to get any of the actual administrators on the phone to troubleshoot. Terrible escalation procedures. If my system goes down I shouldn't have to submit a ticket and wait, I should be able to get on the phone and immediately have someone working on the issue.

2) Dropped emails. Not just queued, but dropped. Apparently if you are sending out a lot of emails, even if they are not spam (e.g. facebook automatically sends email notifications which you can elect; we had something similar), they will drop emails. Literally thousands upon thousands of emails were just deleted. No warning or notification or anything. No grace period, no buffer, nothing. This is horrible service.

3) Terrible uptime. I have had better uptime with free web hosts which I would never conceive of putting a business on...but to have to pay thousands per month for a service which is unavailable? No thanks.

4) Constantly being attacked and flooded because their security controls are not tight. We had issues sending emails, even at a low level, because someone was overloading their SMTP service because they had a virus and were sending spam. Great...so I can't send legitimate email because you can't block the account of the guy who is spamming. Nice.

5) Extremely inflexible. If you are using the Rackspace Cloud Sites, vs. installing and managing everything yourself, the interface is extremely inflexible. Simple things like ssh are unavailable. There is no normal cron. Everything is a hack if you want to get it to work, unless you simply want to use it to serve basic html and images. No decent interface for adding mail aliases. Worst offering ever. If you are going to offer an enterprise class solution, make sure you have the basics covered that even free web hosts offer first.

And what? Did they take any constructive criticisms? No. Did they give clear timelines for updates? No. Did they apologize for a lack of service? No. Credit? Not until we threatened legal action.

These guys suck. Go to Amazon.

Rackspace Cloud is simple (1)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34176970)

I use Rackspace Cloud because it's simple. There's nothing to mount, nor is there a huge learning curve with setting up a VM. It's a great way to experiment with servers on a shoestring budget.

However, things change when you're moving from a handful of manually-configured VMs to an army designed to handle lots of load. Amazon's learning curve is certainly worth considering once you need to tune towards an app's specific scalability needs.

No mention of Rack Space Cloud Sites (3, Interesting)

phpsocialclub (575460) | more than 3 years ago | (#34177686)

Rack Space cloud sites is true cloud hosting, You do not add servers, you just pay for CPU usage like you are buying bandwidth. It is expensive and you can not customize it, but it always works and scales to meet demand.

It is not a VM, where you can install your own OS, Web server, etc. It is a apache server, mysql clustered backend and varnish cache front end.

Great for Blog hosting, PHP applications, etc. We do about 8-10 million page views on it per month and like it for what it is,

If I had staff that needed to configure servers all day, it would be different, but for hosting large dynamic LAMP websites, it is great and reliable.

Andrew

Right tool for the job (1)

Chris Snook (872473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34177774)

I'm a happy Rackspace Cloud customer. I use it for a few small VMs that I treat like normal, uniquely-configured servers, but I don't have to mess with all the details of running a data center, and that makes my life easier. I looked at EC2, and it became very obvious that it was not intended to be used that way. If you want to do the whole dynamic cloud thing where your log scraper uses an API to request more CPU for this VM, more RAM for that VM, and duplicate a few more web front-end hosts, EC2 definitely covers the bases, but I just wanted a couple servers with redundant power and storage, pre-built backup/restore system, in a data center that's professionally managed by people who are not me, and I wanted to do it without spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars up front.

In terms of business growth, EC2-style cloud computing is great for large organizations with their own developers who can afford semi-custom solutions that offload 80% of their server infrastructure to Amazon's data centers, but that's a market that will saturate quickly. The larger opportunity is customers like me, who are trying to help a small organization grow into a large organization without investing huge amounts of time and money up front (because they don't have either to spare yet), and need servers that aren't just run from someone's desk. If Amazon invests the short term returns from EC2 into something that competes directly with Rackspace Cloud, I'm sure they'll be competitive, but right now the two offerings aren't directly comparable.

Rackspace ftl (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34178054)

Lmao Rackspace has nothing over Amazon. No one wants their shitty over priced crap network.

Sometimes applications don't scale ... (1)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34178228)

I don't want to step on any toes, but mixpanel does not seem to have the kind of traffic or growth [alexa.com] that would call for dramatic measures (or articles). It looks like their application must be very I/O-intensive and most, if not all commercial clouds would be bad/limiting for them (does any provider give you numbers comparable to your own 10gbe or IB infrastructure without virtualization?). Sure, they can provide some room for growth on demand, but if it doesn't fit your application because you need I/O both throughput and low latency, you might still want to look at buying your own hardware.

You'll have different problems going that way, from rack temperatures to flakey RAMs, but it's much more flexible and a lot cheaper (in our case, the cost is somewhere around 15-20% of what we'd pay for EC2 including traffic over the past 5 years, as of last year or so when I bothered doing a comparison). Plus you don't need to write dramatic articles when you find out along the way that you aren't getting what you need. And you get to play with interesting hardware, but I realize that not everyone likes that. ;-)

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