Amazon speeds up its cloud with SSD block storage

cloud storage

Amazon Web Services has launched a new general purpose Elastic Block Store that runs fully on solid state drives (SSD), which the leading IaaS cloud vendor says will provide dramatically better performance for users compared to previous-generation spinning disk persistent storage.

In addition to announcing all SSD General Purpose EBS Volumes today, AWS reduced prices for its EBS services by 35%, which represent the 43rd price drop the company has announced since 2006. Read about the news from AWS here.

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The new General Purpose SSD-backed EBS volumes come with a 99.999% availability guarantee and are meant to be used for any range of block storage use cases in AWS. Block storage is persistent storage that can be attached to compute instances, in this case AWS’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and they’re used commonly to host databases.

The General Purpose EBS offering is ideal for small to midsized databases, as they burst in input/output operations per second (IOPS) speeds based on the amount of data that is stored in them. IOPS is basically a measure of how fast EBS can manage the data stored in it. The new General Purpose SSD Volumes provide a base level of 3 IOPS for every gigabyte of storage, but it scales up to 3,000 IOPS if needed. For larger workloads that need even faster provisioning times, AWS has Provisioned IOPS EBS Volumes deliver up to 48,000 IOPS.

That IOPS capacity makes the new General Purpose and Provisioned IOPS storage good for not only hosting databases, but also to increase boot time of compute instances. By taking advantage of the increased SSD capacity of the EBS instances, AWS estimates that boot times could be 50% faster for customers.

The General Purpose EBS SSD volumes cost $0.10 per GB per month, while the Provisioned IOPS Volumes cost 0.125 per GB per month. AWS still has its previous generation EBS offering, which it calls Magnetic Volumes, that costs $0.05 per GB per month.

Today’s move continues a natural progression of AWS rolling out SSDs across its cloud. Previously, AWS has installed SSDs for the local storage of many of its EC2 instances. All of the company’s newest-generation virtual machine instance sizes now come in SSD flavors, including those optimized for high compute, memory and graphic processing.

Rolling out SSD functionality is becoming standard practice to cloud providers, but various market players are in different stages of doing so. Many of AWS’s competitors, like CenturyLink, Rackspace and Joyent, offer SSD storage options for customers. AWS is making SSD volumes the default new storage option for EBS volumes though.

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Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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