Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Kevin Benedict, Liz McMillan, Cloud Ventures, Patrick Carey

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA

Cloud Expo: 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.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
Cloud Computing is evolving into a Big Three of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud 360: Multi-Cloud Bootcamp, being held Nov 4–5, 2014, in conjunction with 15th Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, CA, delivers a real-world demonstration of how to deploy and configure a scalable and available web application on all three platforms. The Cloud 360 Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, an analyst with Gigaom Research, is the first bootcamp that introduces the core concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based on the workings of the Big Three platforms – Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Azure VMs. Bootcamp attendees will get to see the big picture and also receive the knowledge needed to make the best cloud decisions for their business applications and entire enterprise IT organization.
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
The Internet of Things is a natural complement to the cloud and related technologies such as Big Data, analytics, and mobility. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Joe Weinman will lay out four generic strategies – digital disciplines – to exploit emerging digital technologies for strategic advantage. Joe Weinman has held executive leadership positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and Telx, in areas such as corporate strategy, business development, product management, operations, and R&D.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DevOps.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's “DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo,” which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. DevOps.com is where the world meets DevOps. It is the largest collection of original content relating to DevOps on the web today Featuring up-to-the-minute news, feature stories, blogs, bylined articles and more, DevOps.com is where the thought leaders of the DevOps movement make their ideas known.
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that allow marketers to cut through the noise and design their campaigns around strong, predictive signals, rather than arbitrary statistics. SendGrid sends up to half a billion emails a day for customers such as Pinterest and GitHub. All this email adds up to more text than produced in the entire twitterverse. We track events like clicks, opens and deliveries to help improve deliverability for our customers – adding up to over 50 billion useful events every month. While SendGrid data covers only abo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the Web Host Industry Review has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 2000, The Web Host Industry Review has made a name for itself as the foremost authority of the Web hosting industry providing reliable, insightful and comprehensive news, reviews and resources to the hosting community. TheWHIR Blogs provides a community of expert industry perspectives. The Web Host Industry Review Magazine also offers a business-minded, issue-driven perspective of interest to executives and decision-makers. WHIR TV offers on demand web hosting video interviews and web hosting video features of the key persons and events of the web hosting industry. WHIR Events brings together like-minded hosting industry professionals and decision-makers in local communities. TheWHIR is an iNET Interactive property.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic networking and advanced communications platforms, Verizon Enterprise Solutions helps open new opportunities around the world for innovation, investment and business transformation. Visit verizonenterprise.com to learn more.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMCnet has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.
"In my session I spoke about enterprise cloud analytics and how we can leverage analytics as a service," explained Ajay Budhraja, CTO at the Department of Justice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
“We are starting to see people move beyond the commodity cloud and enterprises need to start focusing on additional value added services in order to really drive their adoption," explained Jason Mondanaro, Director of Product Management at MetraTech, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
"We are automated capacity control software, which basically looks at all the supply and demand and running a virtual cloud environment and does a deep analysis of that and says where should things go," explained Andrew Hillier, Co-founder & CTO of CiRBA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at 15th Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, Vice President, Product Strategy of LogMeIn's Xively IoT Platform, will show you how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
All too many discussions about DevOps conclude that the solution is an all-purpose player: developer and operations guru, complete with pager for round-the-clock duty. For most organizations that is not the way forward. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Golden, Vice President of Strategy at ActiveState, will discuss how to achieve the agility and speed of end-to-end automation without requiring an organization stocked with Supermen and Superwomen.