Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Peter Silva, PagerDuty Blog, JP Morgenthal, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo

@CloudExpo: Article

Hyperscale Computing Driving Small-Scale Designs

Are mid-scale offerings soon to be obsolete?

Multi-million user social networks, cloud hosting, Internet search and Big Data problems such as meteorology, complex physics and business informatics, all share one basic need - they each require incredibly large, complex and varied computer platforms. However, a common requirement across these systems is to "optimize the unit cost of computing." At this degree of hyperscale computing, the network, system, software, facility, and maintenance all add up to 10s or 100s of millions of dollars per project, and optimizations of a single element or the coordination of multiple elements can save the business millions. A good example of this holistic approach is Facebook's OpenCompute project, which saved the company 38% in efficiency and costs 24% less in build expense.

Similar to the automobile industry, where the racing technology from Indy, F1, and NASCAR end up in passenger vehicles, the hyperscale compute innovations we're seeing in juggernauts like Facebook will end up as line-item part numbers from vendors that are available to everyone. The timing couldn't be better, as solid state hard drives are becoming affordable and most enterprises are ramping up private cloud initiatives within their firms.

In a hyperscale design, premium computing constructs (like those seen in blade systems) are normally abandoned, favoring stripped down commodity designs that do the job at a fraction of the price. Because of the size of the deployment, rewriting an application to take advantage of the commodity compute fabric, or moving a task that was done in purpose-built hardware into custom software (e.g., disaster fault recovery), becomes cost-effective. Essentially, the decreased investment in hardware funds the software investments with ease. So what design elements are being abandoned in favor of hyperscale computing?

An example of the complex monolithic system that is being abandoned

  • Premium storage array networks with expensive optical connectivity and recovery features are being replaced with a mix of locally attached and network-attached storage, eliminating the heavy burden on the storage network
  • Dedicated compute, manage and storage networks are being replaced, favoring virtual LANs that reduce cabling and network costs
  • High cost per port network switching is being replaced, favoring commodity network components
  • High cost per socket blade systems are being replaced, favoring commodity compute components
  • Devices for monitoring and management are being replaced, favoring software tools and thoughtfully architected applications
  • Hot-swappable devices for high availability are being replaced, favoring streamlined hardware configuration
  • Redundant power supplies are being eliminated

The best visualization for this kind of unit cost of computing design is the Google Platform from 1998 that integrated individual parts without the purchase of machine cases.

Previously, creating the best optimized hyperscale compute fabric meant that a full staff of hardware/network/applications/systems/facilities engineers was needed to drive out the costs. Today, there are firms that are using hyperscale designs to create private cloud solutions affordable for small to medium-sized business markets or for business units in large firms. Companies working in this space aim to create the highest performance per IOP private cloud solution, delivering highly scalable infrastructure solutions.

Ideally, this architecture comes in the form of a single unit that uses converged networking, a mix of local and network-attached storage, and management software included in a small form factor. There are a handful of innovative vendors offering these solutions today. Customers adopting this type of solution enjoy an extremely low-cost commitment as a minimally configured system is capable of running a base level of virtual machines in a private and dedicated system with the potential to scale as needed. Hyperscale designs also work well in large-scale deployments, where 100,000s of virtual machines are being run.

The mid-scale cloud market, comprised of 10,000s of virtual machines, is also an interesting space. Currently, mid-market integrated private cloud offerings require large upfront costs and ongoing operational costs for dedicated staff to manage and maintain the complicated compute, storage, and networking, in addition to the expensive per socket and port hardware. Buyers in this space should certainly be asking vendors the cost per VM and the cost per terabyte of storage before they purchase, as well as determining the skills that are required to maintain an infrastructure of that kind. At this point, the mid-scale solutions look obsolete, as evolving hyperscale formats require lower cost commitments, and deliver high price performance coupled with compute, network and storage cooperation.

When discussing application considerations, hyperscale architecture is a natural platform for applications designed to leverage its key features - horizontal scalability (for high throughput and increased performance), and redundancy (for high availability and fault tolerance). Earlier hyperscale architectures, as mentioned earlier, took a different approach toward performance and reliability. Data access performance and high availability relied on premium storage array networks with expensive optical connectivity and recovery features. Compute performance relied on a high cost per socket blade system and high cost per port network switches.

The service orientation and "assumed failure" approach to cloud applications puts the burden of performance and reliability assurance on the application architecture. By constructing applications as a collection of loosely coupled services, greater performance can be achieved by distributing and replicating services horizontally across commodity compute, network, and storage components. High availability can also be achieved in a similar fashion by replicating application services across the hyperscale environment and introducing a failover mechanism to mirrored services upon service failure detection.

It's important to note several additional benefits achieved by this synergy between the hyperscale architecture and applications designed to leverage it. From a performance standpoint, system monitoring software can easily be configured to detect business policy-driven performance thresholds and automatically scale or contract services based on such policies. A similar strategy can be established for high availability policies. Should the number of redundant backup services fall below a certain threshold, additional backup services can be launched before any danger of service disruption is reached. Without going into exhaustive detail, it's clear that another hyperscale benefit is the ease in which applications and platform components can be patched and replaced without service disruption. Finally, the same mechanism by which patches are applied and platforms are replaced makes it easy to test and launch new features in line with the company's business strategy.

In conclusion, organizations across a wide variety of markets require robust servers with high density performance at an affordable entry price for all levels of businesses. A hyperscale architecture combined with well-designed applications provides enterprises with a powerful tool to operate an agile business, staying ahead of the competition and exploiting new business opportunities to its advantage.

More Stories By Lee Thompson

Lee Thompson is passionate about using cutting-edge technology to automate businesses, and was one of the key architects of E*TRADE FINANCIAL, using technology to price financial services products affordable for everyone. Lee currently brings his broad experience to Morphlabs as Chief Technology Officer, and to dev2ops.org, where he is a contributor.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., will discuss how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advanta...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, will provide a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
Interoute has announced the integration of its Global Cloud Infrastructure platform with Rancher Labs’ container management platform, Rancher. This approach enables enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and infrastructure investments. Matthew Finnie, Interoute CTO commented “Enterprises developing and building apps in the cloud and those on a path to Digital Transformation need Digital ICT Infrastructure that allows them to build, test and deploy faster than ever before. The int...
VeriStor Systems has announced that CRN has named VeriStor to its 2017 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Elite 150 category. This annual list recognizes North American solution providers with cutting-edge approaches to delivering managed services. Their offerings help companies navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of IT, improve operational efficiencies, and maximize their return on IT investments. In today’s fast-paced business environments, MSPs play an important role...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
FinTech is the sum of financial and technology, and it’s one of the fastest growing tech industries. Total global investments in FinTech almost reached $50 billion last year, but there is still a great deal of confusion over what it is and what it means – especially as it applies to retirement. Building financial startups is not simple, but with the right team, technology and an innovative approach it can be an extremely interesting domain to disrupt. FinTech heralds a financial revolution that...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...