Amazon’s New High-Powered AWS Instance Family

Amazon launched a new instance family for EC2 late last week, suggesting that organizations’ needs for infrastructure capable of handling enormous datasets is only increasing.

“The High Storage Eight Extra Large (hs1.8xlarge) instances are a great fit for applications that require high storage depth and high sequential I/O performance,” read a note on the Amazon Web Services Blog. “Each instance includes 117 GiB of RAM, 16 virtual cores (providing 35 ECU of compute performance), and 48 TB of instance storage across 24 hard disk drives capable of delivering up to 2.4 GB per second of I/O performance.” Instance storage is local; Amazon recommends backing up data to S3—its Simple Storage Service—as a redundancy.

As one can tell from the specs, this particular instance family is meant for data-intensive applications in need of high storage density and high sequential I/O. “We know that these applications can generate or consume tremendous amounts of data and that you want to be able to run them on EC2,” the blog posting added.

Applications in need of that sort of infrastructure include data warehousing and heavy-duty analysis of massive datasets. An organization seeking particularly low latency for a data-crunching project can spin up multiple High Storage Eight Extra Large instances in a placement group. Amazon is rolling out the instance family first in the US East (Northern Virginia) region, with plans to expand to other datacenter regions over the next few months; on-demand pricing starts at $4.60 an hour.

In November, Amazon rolled out a number of brand-new AWS features, including its Redshift petabyte-scale data warehouse service and a revamped AWS Data Pipeline. It also updated ElastiCache, its scalable caching layer between application and database, with Auto Discovery—a feature that streamlines applications’ ability to adapt to the addition or deletion of nodes from cache clusters.

Amazon’s advances come at a time when Google, Microsoft and other IT vendors have displayed increasing interest in the Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) space. In a bid to compete more heartily with Amazon, Google recently slashed the prices of its Google Cloud Storage by 30 percent.

All these companies are clearly responding to an enormous demand on the part of organizations to crunch huge amounts of data—and based on Amazon’s latest offering, that amount of data is only increasing.


Image: Amazon