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Why the cloud requires a totally different data center

Brandon Butler | Nov. 19, 2013
AWS VP who builds data centers for the biggest cloud provider says scale matters, a lot.

AWS says a big goal is to be responsive to customers. The company recently launched a new US-West data center in Oregon that is 100% carbon neutral and Hamilton says it's the company's fastest growing data center.

Even with all the customization, AWS can't always predict exactly how much of its resources will be used. If AWS can increase its utilization, its costs will be lower because it will get more bang for its buck from the hardware. AWS has to have enough capacity to support its peak utilization, but when the servers are not being maxed out, that is a waste of capacity. AWS solves this problem by pooling dissimilar customer workloads. For example, retail customers may have one really busy time of the year during the holiday shopping rush, while companies handling tax returns use resources at another. By combining the workloads of these customers under the same umbrella, the workload density averages out.

There will still be under-utilization, but AWS has tried to turn that into an advantage. The introduction of spot-instances, which allow customers to place bids on excess instances, enables this.

It's these efficiencies that are gleaned from the company's scale that have fueled growth. As it grows, AWS adds more features, which attracts more customers, which leads to more growth. It's a virtuous cycle that AWS executives say drives the company.


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