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12/9/2013
09:54 AM
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Internap Taps Solid-State Storage For Cloud Service

Hosting services giant enters cloud sector, aims to differentiate itself from competitors with high-speed, performance-guaranteed block storage.

Internap Network Services moved into the public cloud realm in November with its AgileCloud, and it is now offering compute and storage services from its data centers located in key worldwide communications hubs.

Internap is known as large supplier of hosting services from its datacenters; it is responsible for the infrastructure, and its customers supply an application to run on it. Its services include both virtual servers and bare-metal servers dedicated to a single customer. It's been edging up to cloud services since it bought Voxel, with its automated management software, in late 2011.

On Nov. 21, it announced it now offers "hybridized cloud services." In its lexicon, this means it is offering customer self-service for infrastructure-as-a-service that could include multitenant hosts or bare-metal servers. Either option could be activated by customers through the OpenStack set of cloud APIs. If a customer uses Internap to build out a private cloud on bare-metal servers, it could operate with multitenant servers in a hybrid fashion. "Hybrid cloud" usually means a public cloud service working with a private cloud, often built in an enterprise datacenter.

Internap charges $0.07 an hour for a single-core, 2-GB RAM virtual server.

[Want to learn more about cloud pricing wars? See Google Attacks Amazon With Cloud Storage Prices.]

One of the most interesting features of Internap's service is Internap AgileCloud storage, a block-storage service like Amazon Web Service's Elastic Block Store (EBS). It is targeted at enterprises that make heavy use of block storage and are looking for an alternative to their on-premises equipment.

In addition to being based on OpenStack, Internap's service has other differences from Amazon's. It's based on high-speed, solid-state disks and comes with quality-of-service guarantees. Also, Internap AgileCloud storage is still only a beta service, unlike Amazon's heavily tested, fully productized EBS.

SolidFire solid-state storage.
SolidFire solid-state storage.

Internap's solid-state storage comes from SolidFire, which also powers solid-state memory for Colt cloud datacenters in Europe. SolidFire also supplies solid-state drives to Datapipe's Stratosphere Cloud for its high-performance services.

Internap isn't the only cloud company using solid-state storage: US cloud startup DigitalOcean uses solid-state drives to power storage in its customers' cloud servers. Also, AWS offers EC2 servers with solid state in some cases, usually its highest-end instances, such as HI1, used in large-scale MongoDB or Hadoop operations.

Solid-state storage is a relative newcomer to cloud computing because cloud architectures have been designed around the most reliable and least-expensive components. But it's more often finding its way into enterprise datacenters, and DigitalOcean and other services using solid-state storage say it has become more reliable. They also say failures of single components can be managed by a software system in the same way other hardware failures are handled in cloud operations, according to CEO Ben Uretsky.

"AgileCloud is now 100% OpenStack 'under the hood,' which provides an open, interoperable framework that helps us deliver a dramatically more scalable platform," said Raj Dutt, Internap senior VP of technology. The solid-state offering will increase Internap's competitiveness in the market, as will other specialized features, such as bare-metal servers, static IP addresses, and Layer 2 VLANS.

Internap has datacenters in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, the New York metro area, Santa Clara, Calif., and Seattle, as well as Amsterdam and other points overseas.

The crucible of cloud, big data and distributed computing is hell on systems. Will application performance management cool down complexity — or just add fuel to the fire? Also in the new, all-digital APM Under Fire special issue of InformationWeek:Cloud industry heavyweights discuss the pros and cons of OpenStack support for Amazon APIs. (Free registration required.)

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Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
12/9/2013 | 11:42:29 AM
Cost vs. Amazon?
Charlie, how does the cost for this storage from Internap compare with buying Amazon EBS? Assuming it's more expensive, do you think SSD will deliver a performance improvement that makes it worthwhile?
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/9/2013 | 3:50:38 PM
What does Internap charge for SSD block storage?
Stay tuned on pricing. None was cited in announcement. A search of the Internap AgileCloud site resulted in directions to contact a sales representative, which I've declined to do. Amazon Web Services and other vendors just post their prices. To me, this means Internap hsa a price differential that it doesn't wish to publicly air. I will try to get some sort of pricing on the record.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
12/10/2013 | 3:08:57 AM
Re: What does Internap charge for SSD block storage?
Internap brought SSD into play in cloud computing/block storage realm. The pricing is also of my interest - how much they will charge for IaaS built of top of SolidFire? Will it be more expensive compared to the existing cloud service/storage offerings? As a customer I am willing to know how much I need to pay for a new service. 
Gary_EL
IW Pick
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
12/9/2013 | 3:51:20 PM
Kudos for Solid-State Storage
I think it is safe to say that sold-state devices are inherently more reliable than electro-mechanical devices. I look forward to the day when electro-mechanical storage devices become historical curiosities just as vacuum tubes are. Whatever the startup issues are now, Internap and DigitalOcean will be repaid with a far more reliable hardware base in the near future. Byte for byte, digital is still more expensive, but the cost for solid state devices comes down much faster than the cost for electro-mechanical devices, so that disadvantage won't last for long.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/9/2013 | 11:31:33 PM
Both short and long term storage is SSDs
Both the short term, ephemeral storage and the longer term, block storage are based on SSDs, Ephemeral storage is what's assigned to your virtual machine, disappears when the VM does. Seems to me SSDs are an ideal scale-out device for the cloud.
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