Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Tom Kemp, Pat Romanski, Fouad Khalil, Dana Gardner

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
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of (at least) three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the back-end service, and the mobile application for the end user’s controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target –...
SYS-CON Events announced today Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. 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.
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
Fact: storage performance problems have only gotten more complicated, as applications not only have become largely virtualized, but also have moved to cloud-based infrastructures. Storage performance in virtualized environments isn’t just about IOPS anymore. Instead, you need to guarantee performance for individual VMs, helping applications maintain performance as the number of VMs continues to go up in real time. In his session at Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, Product and Marketing at Tintri, wil...
Pulzze Systems was happy to participate in such a premier event and thankful to be receiving the winning investment and global network support from G-Startup Worldwide. It is an exciting time for Pulzze to showcase the effectiveness of innovative technologies and enable them to make the world smarter and better. The reputable contest is held to identify promising startups around the globe that are assured to change the world through their innovative products and disruptive technologies. There w...
StarNet Communications Corp has announced the addition of three Secure Remote Desktop modules to its flagship X-Win32 PC X server. The new modules enable X-Win32 to safely tunnel the remote desktops from Linux and Unix servers to the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. Traditionally, users of PC X servers deploy the XDMCP protocol to display remote desktop environments such as the Gnome and KDE desktops on Linux servers and the CDE environment on Solaris Unix machines. XDMCP is used primarily on comp...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
Extreme Computing is the ability to leverage highly performant infrastructure and software to accelerate Big Data, machine learning, HPC, and Enterprise applications. High IOPS Storage, low-latency networks, in-memory databases, GPUs and other parallel accelerators are being used to achieve faster results and help businesses make better decisions. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at NVIDIA, focused on some of the unique ways extreme computing is...
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Qosmos has announced new milestones in the detection of encrypted traffic and in protocol signature coverage. Qosmos latest software can accurately classify traffic encrypted with SSL/TLS (e.g., Google, Facebook, WhatsApp), P2P traffic (e.g., BitTorrent, MuTorrent, Vuze), and Skype, while preserving the privacy of communication content. These new classification techniques mean that traffic optimization, policy enforcement, and user experience are largely unaffected by encryption. In respect wit...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pulzze Systems will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Pulzze Systems, Inc. provides infrastructure products for the Internet of Things to enable any connected device and system to carry out matched operations without programming. For more information, visit http://www.pulzzesystems.com.
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...