Amazon arms developers with flash-based rentable computers

AWS has brought flash storage to its rentable virtual servers, giving developers with I/O-hungry applications such as databases the opportunity to rent cloud-based servers
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Amazon has brought SSD-backed rentable servers to Amazon Web Services, to entice developers to host major databases on its cloud.

The High I/O Quadruple Extra Large EC2 (hi1.4xlarge) instance was launched by AWS on Wednesday. To start with, developers can rent the SSD-backed servers from datacentres in Virginia and Ireland, though as with all AWS products, it's likely the company will add more locations over time. 

"Modern web and mobile applications are often highly I/O dependent. They need to store and retrieve lots of data in order to deliver a rich, personalised experience, and they need to do it as fast as possible in order to respond to clicks and gestures in real time," Jeff Barr, a senior Amazon Web Services evangelist, wrote in a blog post.

"In order to meet this need, we are introducing a new family of EC2 instances that are designed to run low-latency, I/O-intensive applications, and are an exceptionally good host for NoSQL databases such as Cassandra and MongoDB."

Each High I/O Quadruple Extra Large EC2 server has eight compute cores, 60.5GB of memory and two SSDs with one terabyte of storage each. The servers can be directly connected to their peers via a 10Gbps Ethernet network interface card (NIC) to deal with particularly large databases.

The servers cost $3.10 (£1.97) to rent per hour if running Linux or UNIX and $3.58 per hour if running Windows, when rented from the US East (Virginia) datacentre region. The rate is $3.41 per hour for Linux/UNIX and $3.58 per hour for Windows when rented from the EU (Ireland) region. 

The move follows Amazon's launch of the SSD-backed DynamoDB NoSQL database service in January. DynamoDB was only available from US East Virginia at launch. Since then, it has become available from datacentres in California, Oregon, Singapore, Ireland and Japan. 

By targeting databases with the rentable servers and its own DynamoDB technology, Amazon is trying to lure more developers to its cloud. 

"It is my expectation that with the increase of data-centric applications, we will see more and more I/O hungry systems being built that require this type of rock-solid High Performance I/O," the company's chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

Amazon indicated that more SSD technologies are on the way, as it described the new rentable server as "the first member" of the High I/O EC2 Instance family.

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