The data center you dream of is in the cloud

New high-performance public cloud offerings deliver what IT can't afford to implement in-house

Last week, Amazon Web Services' High I/O Quadruple Extra Large instance in Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) made its debut. It provides 2TB of local SSD-backed storage with 60.5GB of RAM running on eight virtual cores. Most enterprises can't afford such high-performance data center equipment, and the cloud providers are hoping that the capacity, formerly only dreamed of, might draw faster cloud adoption.

Many organizations look to public cloud providers to provide access to commodity hardware and software, but it's clear the state-of-the-art computing and storage services offered well exceed what's considered "commodity." Of course, there are higher rates for accessing the fast stuff.

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Even if your company has the money to create its own hypercapacity data center, the reality is that many enterprises need access to high-performance compute services for small periods, such as to run monthly reports or to handle seasonal transaction spikes. For such episodic usage, it's tough to justify spending millions of dollars on top-shelf hardware that most of the time will sit idle. That's the real value of high-end cloud offerings: You rent high-performance computing only when you need it -- and avoid a truckload of expense.

If you compare commodity cloud services to the cost of doing it yourself, you typically find a small savings in the cloud. The bigger advantages are usually around convenience and lower management overhead, not equipment costs. But the equation on the high-performance end is quite different: The cost delta is much larger in favor of the cloud providers. Simply put, cloud-based high-performance computing yields substantially better ROI than its DIY equivalent.

As enterprises and government agencies continue to grow the use of big data systems and other compute- and I/O-intensive tasks, the demand for high-performance computing will increase significantly. In the world of high-performance computing, the case for buying your own gear simply doesn't make as much financial sense as getting it from the cloud.

This article, "The data center you dream of is in the cloud," originally appeared at Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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