In case you aren’t suitably impressed by the scale of Amazon Web Services

Although the video has been up for awhile, if you haven’t had the chance to watch Amazon Web Service’s VP & Distinguished Engineer James Hamilton spell out AWS facts at the re:Invent conference last November, do yourself a favor and pull up a chair. Fascinating stuff that gives you some insight into the rapidly evolving world of cloud computing.

The video is embedded below (or you can watch it on YouTube here, but here are some facts to whet your appetite:

  • AWS has more than 1 million users
  • AWS Simple Storage Service (S3) usage is growing 132% year over year
  • AWS Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is growing 99% year over year
  • Every day AWS adds as much new server capacity as Amazon used to support its $7 billion business back in 2004

Networking only represents 8% of monthly AWS operating costs, Hamilton says, but the “cost of networking is escalating relative to the cost of all the other equipment.” That is very “anti-Moore,” he says.

“At the same time, the ratio of networking to compute is going up,” he says. “Partly driven by the fact there is more computer in a given server generationally because Moore is working there, partly because, as the cost of computing falls, the amount of advanced data analytics goes up, which is network intensive.”

This pushed AWS to design its own switches, which taught the company a few things. “One, they are a lot cheaper, which isn’t a surprise. We were paying $10s of millions on support contracts alone. But surprisingly, availability went up. Why? Because suppliers have to aggregate the needs of tons of customers. We don’t end up using all the features, and neither do you.”

AWS stripped the switch design to the element they needed, and ended up with “an easier problem to solve,” which made the devices more reliable.

Although few companies have the resources of these Web-scale guys, this is the basic thinking driving interest in the whitebox/commercial off the shelf (COTS) movements.

Hamilton goes on to outline AWS’ basic worldwide architecture:

  • There are 11 AWS regions, and each region has two or more Availability Zones (AZ)
  • Each AZ is a separate data center (and there are 28 AZs total)
  • The typical AWS data center is 25-30 megawatt, with 50,000-80,000 servers (diminishing returns with anything larger, he says)
  • Up to 102Tbps serve each data center
  • AZs are less than 2ms apart
  • Peak inter-AZ traffic 25 terabits per sec

While most AZs only have two AZs, the AWS US East region has five. And that region uses 82,000+ fiber strands to link the AZs, link the AZs to customers and the Internet.

Amazing stuff. And revisit that growth fact: Every day AWS adds as much new server capacity as Amazon used to support its $7 billion business back in 2004.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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