Saturday, January 20, 2007

What can Amazon do for you?

Since August 2006, Amazon has been running a computing-on-demand service, allowing customers to create virtual computers on Amazon's computer infrastructure. The massive computer farm system at Amazon and other web giants, such as eBay and Google, allow them to have much more computing power than any IT department could offer.

What does this mean for the rest of us? Well, for about 15 cents per month, you get to store one Gigabyte of info on Amazon. If you want to create a virtual computer on their infrastructure to crunch through your data set, it'll run you about 10 cents per computing hour, a really good deal in comparison to making your own computer farm. In fact, it's the best deal out there.

The service is only in its trial version, however many think it's going to revolutionize (hm, do I sound like Steve Jobs here?) the use of computers in most science and research work.

Switzerland's CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) is putting together their own computer farm, in anticipation of their Large Hadron Collider, which will be turned on next year. The Collider is predicted to churn out 1.5 GB of data per second once it's switched on.

The big deal here is not just the computer farm aspect, but the ability to create and delete virtual computers on the fly. Virtualization allows many Operating Systems to run at the same time, on the same computer. The effect is like having say one hundred computers where you would previously have only one.

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