Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Vincent Brasseur, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Roger Strukhoff

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
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 Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
"Verizon offers public cloud, virtual private cloud as well as private cloud on-premises - many different alternatives. Verizon's deep knowledge in applications and the fact that we are responsible for applications that make call outs to other systems. Those systems and those resources may not be in Verizon Cloud, we understand at the end of the day it's going to be federated," explained Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at...
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. Acco...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
"Cloud consumption is something we envision at Solgenia. That is trying to let the cloud spread to the user as a consumption, as utility computing. We want to allow the people to just pay for what they use, not a subscription model," explained Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...
SYS-CON Media announced that Centrify, a provider of unified identity management across cloud, mobile and data center environments that delivers single sign-on (SSO) for users and a simplified identity infrastructure for IT, has launched an ad campaign on Cloud Computing Journal. The ads focus on security: how an organization can successfully control privilege for all of the organization’s identities to mitigate identity-related risk without slowing down the business, and how Centrify provides ...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
"SAP had made a big transition into the cloud as we believe it has significant value for our customers, drives innovation and is easy to consume. When you look at the SAP portfolio, SAP HANA is the underlying platform and it powers all of our platforms and all of our analytics," explained Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce at SAP, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We help companies that are using a lot of Software as a Service. We help companies manage and gain visibility into what people are using inside the company and decide to secure them or use standards to lock down or to embrace the adoption of SaaS inside the company," explained Scott Kriz, Co-founder and CEO of Bitium, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Ar...
SAP is delivering break-through innovation combined with fantastic user experience powered by the market-leading in-memory technology, SAP HANA. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Thorsten Leiduck, VP ISVs & Digital Commerce, SAP, discussed how SAP and partners provide cloud and hybrid cloud solutions as well as real-time Big Data offerings that help companies of all sizes and industries run better. SAP launched an application challenge to award the most innovative SAP HANA and SAP HANA...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from ha...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Windstream, a leading provider of advanced network and cloud communications, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN), a FORTUNE 500 and S&P 500 company, is a leading provider of advanced network communications, including cloud computing and managed services, to businesses nationwide. The company also offers broadband, p...