Big Scale

Amazon’s CTO, Werner Vogels (@werner) just tweeted that @rightscale has launched over 1,000,000 EC2 instances.  At first, I thought he meant they had 1,000,000 instances running simultaneously.  That would be very impressive, but not surprising, given Amazon’s attitude about scale.

On second-thought, I decided that this probably just means that RightScale had started that many instances, and who knows how long they ran.  Probably many (most?) of them were started and stopped several times in the normal course of development, or to react to scaling needs, and  so were counted multiple times.

Even if the truth is more of the latter, and less of the former, I think this is still a nice bit of credibility for Amazon Web Services.  Lots of folks think AWS is nothing special – after all, we can all run virtual machines in our own data centers, and probably with more features that AWS offers.  I think that AWS is all about operating virtual machines (and the associated storage and networking infrastructure) every efficiently, very reliably, at very large scale.  And this milestone (for RightScale) points directly to that large scale operation: how many of us have ever provisioned 1,000,000 virtual machines in our data centers – for any amount of time?

I know that this is only one small metric, and not the only decision criterion, but when you need a dozen virtual machines, do you feel more confident starting them in a rack where you have run a dozen other VMs, or on an infrastructure where VMs have been started over 1M times by their partners?

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