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Report: Amazon Cloud Backed By 450,000 Servers

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the single-breasted-cumulus-spotted-in-lorton dept.

Cloud 45

1sockchuck writes "How many servers does it take to power Amazon's huge cloud computing operation? A researcher estimates that Amazon Web Services is using at least 454,400 servers in seven data center hubs around the globe. The analysis suggests up to 70 percent of those servers may be in Virginia."

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Go Virginia (1)

crrkrieger (160555) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362939)

They don't call it the Old Dominion for nothing

Re:Go Virginia (5, Funny)

cashman73 (855518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363033)

Except I suppose the citizens of Virginia aren't going to be too happy when the government realizes that Amazon has a "physical presence" in the state and decides to start charging them sales tax,. . . D'oh!

Re:Go Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363125)

Time to move.

Re:Go Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363347)

already did and law was just passed :(

Re:Go Virginia (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39368361)

No sales taxes on services.

Re:Go Virginia (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363199)

Too late. Starts next year, apparently. :(

http://hamptonroads.com/2012/02/virginia-sales-tax-looms-amazoncom

Re:Go Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363755)

What... uh... what ELSE is in Virginia?

I think there are a couple of significant organizations in Virginia, aren't there?

The kinds with widely recognizable TLAs for names?

Re:Go Virginia (2)

PTBarnum (233319) | more than 2 years ago | (#39365777)

Virginia, or more precisely the DC suburbs near Dulles Airport, is a popular spot for data centers for the same reasons as the bay area. Lots of companies have data centers there, so there is lots of infrastructure, so lots of companies have data centers there, so .there is lots of infrastructure...

I think the TLAs you are thinking of are more than capable of interfering with data centers anywhere in the country.

Re:Go Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39365891)

You mean the Culinary Institute of America??? No wonder why there are so many good restaurants in Tyson's Corner and the Reston Town Center

Goes to install smart meter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362947)

;) Thanks Virginia.

Obligatory xkcd (4, Funny)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39362955)

Obligatory "The IT Crowd" (1)

IwantToKeepAnon (411424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363219)

Does the elders of the internet know that he took it down from Big Ben? That is where the best reception is. Also about the cord ... it's wireless. Hello?

Re:Obligatory xkcd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363363)

I don't know, seems more like an "Optional xkcd" to me.

one server per human (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362965)

I wonder when the world's number of servers will be equal to number of humans?

Re:one server per human (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363233)

Tommorrow....

Re:one server per human (1)

Scootin159 (557129) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363243)

Who says it hasn't already?

Re:one server per human (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363379)

Dude, where have you been?

Bad Math and Bullshit Story (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39362979)

So, first off, the guy who came up with this number made a ridiculous number of assumptions with no real evidence to back them up, so the number is completely meaningless. Also, from TFA:

Liu then applied an assumption of 64 blade servers per rack – four 10U chassis, each holding eight blades – to arrive at the estimate.

Now, I might have to go dig out my TI-82 to doublecheck, but I think I see a small flaw in this math.

Re:Bad Math and Bullshit Story (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363053)

When one person of one company figures out how much equipment another company has, why is that called "research"? It sounds like high school where you do "research" for your "paper".

Re:Bad Math and Bullshit Story (1)

Taty'sEyes (2373326) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363485)

Real men use an HP 42S.

Re:Bad Math and Bullshit Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39364969)

Not meaningless, just with an unpredictable error. The caveats on the actual blog at https://huanliu.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/amazon-data-center-size/ [wordpress.com] are actually fairly reasonable, and he states clearly that this figure is actually more like a lower bound.

TFA copied incorrectly from TFBP. From TFBP:

We assume Amazon has dense racks, each rack has 4 10U chassis, and each chassis holds 16 blades for a total of 64 blades/rack.

um (4, Insightful)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366931)

No still a guess. From the blog he says he can only discover a rack if he managed to get a instance on it. So yes there might be racks that he never sees (for example I'm sure Amazon reserves some racks for themselves) but also he is assuming that the rack is full if he sees it. As well he is assuming he is right that the networking is done on a per rack manner for all the datacentres. Who knows different datacentres might do it differently (for example maybe europe only has half the servers of a US based datacentre but to keep the number of vlans the same they split the racks in half and only use the first half of the /22 IPs, maybe Amazon has a crap load of racks half full because they haven't gotten around to installing all the equipment, are in the middle of a hardware refresh, debating on having NAT or compute chassis in the available space etc. The only way to have a reasonable idea is to knock on the door and ask them. If they answer they "might" be telling you the truth But "researching" from the outside? You have know idea what you are looking at.

Just as important... (4, Insightful)

jtseng (4054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363117)

What about their support infrastructure? I don't care about the physical locations, but I'm wondering about how many UPS banks do they have? How many primary power feeds do they have to each location? How long do the diesel generators last? Electrical transformers? As a customer, I'm not just concerned about scalability and capability - I want to make sure my presence is always available too!

Re:Just as important... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363195)

Having been to some of the largest data centers in Virginia, I can assure you that the UPS warehousing is quite vast as well - certainly not an afterthought like in many data centers.

Support infrastructure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363475)

Who cares about that?

What godawful storage solution are they using that provides such terrible I/O performance?

I'm curious so I can know what to avoid at all costs. :p

Re:Just as important... (2)

bobcat7677 (561727) | more than 2 years ago | (#39364899)

Except a major advantage you are *supposed* to have in the cloud is geographical diversity. So if a major disaster strikes in one area and turns one massive data center into a smoking crater (worst case) or simply some boneheads deploy faulty code to all the cloud servers in one location (best case), then there are servers elsewhere that can take up the slack. If there is too much concentration of servers in one geographical location, and that location goes down, then effectively the cloud is down even though that should not really ever happen short of a global disaster.

Re:Just as important... (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366973)

You got it wrong: the best case is the smoking crater. Much easy to deal with than a flakey but still responsible service.

Re:Just as important... (3, Interesting)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39367069)

Exactly. If 70% of the capacity is in Virginia can the other 30% keep everyone going? The other locations probably have a lot of load too because people tend to have instances in different zones to try to route traffic to nearby clusters for example. So lets say europe and asia each have the other 15% (I realize there is some other datacentres in the US so not exactly true but approximate). You have 2B+ people in asia all hitting that 15% of hardware already. Now you try to shovel off 35% of your network to their cluster ie greater than 2X more work and have all the extra latency issues to deal with (because presumably US instances were being used because they were closer to the users) ouch.

That said though I guess we don't know how their usage looks. They might be double sized already and so it would only be 0.5*(15+35)%. I doubt they are keeping that much spare capacity around but who knows?

Re:Just as important... (1)

gregarican (694358) | more than 2 years ago | (#39365577)

How long do the diesel generators last?

As long as folks can supply it with fuel, right?!

Re:Just as important... (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366421)

But how much fuel do they have on hand? What if it snows so much that they can't get more diesel (OK, not likely in Virginia)?

Re:Just as important... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39368365)

This article is just a PR cover-up for their 20 minute network outage at their US East location last night.

Re:Just as important... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39368397)

You shouldn't care about that information at any particular data center. That's the great thing about EC2. You get a presence not only in multiple datacenters in a region, but also regions across the world. If you scale your application correctly, no single datacenter failure, or even region should impact your application beyond potentially higher latencies to certain customers.

what are these server things? (4, Funny)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363121)

i thought the cloud was this magical circle in a white paper where all the data just lives

Re:what are these server things? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363493)

"where all the data just lives"

If you delete data in the cloud, is it murder?
I think this is an ethical question that Google/FB have answered. They never delete data. It is wrong!

Story is BS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39364965)

450,000 Intel Servers equates to three IBM Z series Mainframs.

Re:what are these server things? (1)

redbeardcanada (1052028) | more than 2 years ago | (#39368211)

Put some effort into it: I draw mine to actually look like a cloud...

Article is bogus. (2)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39363459)

I down-rated this in the firehose - it's all guesswork. I know "pull numbers out of your rectum and get page hits from slashdot, because slashdot is the new Mikey - they'll post anything!"

Err. What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39363491)

Amazon cloud has ~17,000 CPU cores. Source: http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2011/11/amazon-powers-silk-with-one-of-the-worlds-fastest-supercomputers/

17,000 cores in half a million servers. Err. Error.

Re:Err. What? (2)

PTBarnum (233319) | more than 2 years ago | (#39365677)

So Amazon built a 17,000 core supercomputer. That just means they were able to allocate 17,000 cores to a supercomputer project and run benchmarks on them. Presumably the vast majority of the fleet was still serving external customers. I'm fairly confident that Amazon is not running benchmarks on cores which are currently being used by customers.

Re:Err. What? (1)

mayko (1630637) | more than 2 years ago | (#39365679)

Err... What? Is right.

You're referencing one virtual machine they spun up to show off their new EC2 instance type, not the entire capacity of their data centers worldwide.

I don't care how many servers they have (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39364687)

I refuse to allow my corporate data or any date I deem important to me to sit in someone elses hands and pretend the world is safe.

It's comming and when it comes it's going to be huge.

My Version (2)

twmcneil (942300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366171)

I'll guess an even 1,000,000 servers give or take. I could be off but 450,000 is way low I think. But... my estimate has the same accuracy as TFA.

Virginia (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39366665)

I wonder if the NSA is running things on it :-) Close enough.

Re:Virginia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39368069)

I'm sure they would be.I also wonder whether the NSA/CIA/SomeTLA are "buying ads" on Facebook and Google or sponsoring them in some big way.

Re:Virginia (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39368219)

Not necessarily wat I was getting at but yeah I could see a case for that. Sure encourage people to post all kinds of personal information all in one or two very convenient locations, then give us a backdoor so we can "target ads" to suspected "customers".

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