Amazon has long spurned the move, but a new emphasis on enterprise computing dictates that the company offer single-tenant hosts for customers.
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Amazon Web Services has added bare metal servers, which the company dubbed EC2 Dedicated Hosts, to its cloud services list.
In its early days, Amazon was the environment ito launch applications that represented a new generation. These apps were cloud-oriented and followed the rules of a cloud environment, scaling out over many servers as demand for them grew.
However, the enterprise has a broad legacy environment not designed to operate that way. The new, enterprise-oriented Amazon is bowing to that reality.
EC2 Dedicated Hosts are cloud servers that give IT the ability to bring over legacy software licenses for Windows Server, SQL Server, the Oracle database, and other enterprise software, according to Jeff Barr, Amazon chief evangelist, who wrote about the availability of the new server type in a Nov. 23 blog post.
Legacy licenses are based on how many server sockets or CPUs the software is being run on.
In the cloud, that’s hard to know and it may actually vary, since workloads are assigned virtual CPUs or shares of physical CPUs.
“Dedicated Hosts provide you with visibility into the number of sockets and physical cores that are available so that you can obtain and use software licenses that are a good match for the actual hardware,” Barr wrote in a preview blog posted Oct. 6.
In the past, Amazon has left the bare metal offering to what might be considered the rear guard of cloud computing. IBM had them in SoftLayer for legacy workloads. In addition, Rackspace, with its managed services business, offered them on the Rackspace Managed Cloud. Internap, a data center co-location and hosting service, also had them.
Now Amazon is deciding they’re not so legacy after all.
A strong enterprise constituency likes its own, dedicated servers for running applications in a highly predictable environment with a predictable level of performance. They may be concerned about multi-tenant hosting of applications that must be secure and private. They may want high availability and have compliance requirements in mind that dedicated servers most easily meet.
In Amazon’s case, the dedicated host will still run the application in an Amazon Machine Image or a version of a Xen virtual machine because that’s how AWS services operate, and in that sense, “dedicated host” is a better description than “bare metal,” which is the option of running workloads without a virtual machine.
An EC2 Dedicated Host will come pre-configured to run a certain set of instances, such as a server capable of running eight Amazon c3.xlarge instances. Dedicated hosts will be available like virtual servers in either the on-demand or Reserved Instance mode. A general purpose m3 instance dedicated host is priced at $2.341 per hour. Reserved instance pricing is less but requires a time commitment of one to three years.
For the longer period, prices may be reduced as much as 70%, according to Amazon’s pricing plan.
[Want to learn more about bare metal servers in SoftLayer? See SoftLayer Cloud Business Thriving Inside IBM.]
Amazon likes to call the dedicated host running the customer’s licensed software the “bring your own license,” or BYOL, form of cloud computing.
“We want to make sure that you can continue to derive value from these licenses after you migrate to AWS … In order to do this … you are going to need to control the mapping of the EC2 instances to the underlying, physical servers,” Barr wrote in the Oct. 6 blog.
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Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive … View Full Bio