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Wanted: Cloud infrastructure backed by SSDs

Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft wants faster input/output mechanisms in the cloud. Amazon Web Services' problem: SSDs don't massively scale yet.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Netflix is one of Amazon Web Services' biggest customers and services backed by solid state drives is No. 1 on its wish list.

That's the takeaway from Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft. In a Q&A with ZDNet UK's Jack Clark, Cockcroft kept coming back to the importance of faster input output mechanisms in the cloud. "I've been asking for SSDs in the cloud for some time," said Cockcroft.

He is getting some of that SSD love via Amazon Web Services' Dynamo DB, but Cockcroft wants more scale. Netflix has a data store architecture called Cassandra that dishes out streaming media to the masses. SSDs would help Netflix's cause.

The problem is that SSDs don't massively scale---something Amazon needs before it offers a service. As a result, AWS has instances for CPU, memory and network capacity for data centers, but the I/O is limited to disk. Cockcroft noted:

For Amazon to do something they have to do it on a scale that's really mind-boggling. If you think about deploying an infrastructure service with a new type of hardware — if they got it wrong, they can't turn it back out and do it again differently. So they have to over-engineer what they do.

In other words, Amazon could go SSD-happy with its Web services, but it's risky.

Cockcroft added:

Obviously I want SSDs in there. We've been asking cloud vendors to do that for a while. With Cassandra, we've had to go onto horizontal scale and use the internal disks and triple replicate across availability zones, so you end up with a triple-redundant data store that is careful not to overload the disks.


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