Amazon Launches Redshift Data Warehousing As A Service

Amazon promises 10 times the performance at one-tenth the cost of on-premises data warehouses. Can it deliver?
Amazon's 7 Cloud Advantages: Hype Vs. Reality
Amazon's 7 Cloud Advantages: Hype Vs. Reality
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Amazon Web Services on Friday carried out the promised launch of its Redshift data warehouse service, with which it hopes to disrupt on-premises data warehouses.

"We designed Amazon Redshift to deliver 10 times the performance at one-tenth the cost of the on-premises data warehouses that are commonly used today," wrote Jeff Barr, AWS chief evangelist, in a blog post.

It remains to be seen whether a cloud data warehouse can function with that much less expense than enterprise systems and be effective for enterprise purposes. Redshift will compete with IBM, Oracle, HP Vertica, Teradata and EMC's Greenplum data warehouse systems.

AWS will charge $.85 per hour for a sizeable Redshift virtual server, with 15 GB of RAM, 4.4 virtual processors or EC2 Compute Units and 2 TB of local attached user data in the form of AWS' High Storage Extra Large server. Each ECU equals a 2007 Intel Zeon running at 1.0-1.2 GHz. A bigger Redshift server, the High Storage Eight Extra Large server, which includes 120 GB of RAM, 35 virtual CPUs and 16 TB of local attached user data, is available for $6.80 an hour.

[ Want more on how Redshift competes with a similar on-premises system? See Amazon Redshift Leaves On-Premises Opening, Says ParAccel. ]

That translates into a price of $3,723 per TB per year for both storage and processing for Amazon's higher priced, on-demand instances. If a Redshift customer is willing to pay a front-end down payment, lower-cost reserved instances are available that drive the annual cost down to $2,190 per TB for a one-year server and $999 for a three-year server.

Existing Amazon customers can activate a server cluster and storage to run Redshift from their AWS Management Console. Barr said customers may modify their data warehouse cluster from the management console as it runs, although use will be limited to read only during resizing. The data warehouse may be scaled up to use a petabyte of storage.

Redshift had been in limited preview since its announcement at the Amazon user conference Reinvent in Las Vegas last November. Although now generally available to customers, it is only available through the U.S. East regional facility in Ashburn, Va., AWS' most heavily used cloud center complex. That means West Coast users will experience the greater latency of 3,000-mile round trips as they query their data.

Redshift is an online version of the ParAccel data warehouse system, which ParAccel continues to sell in a licensed version for on-premises use. Amazon gained license rights to ParAccel through a $20 million investment in the firm.

Amazon Web Services spokesmen at Reinvent said itself had used Redshift in connection with its retail operations at a cost of $32,000 a year. ParAccel licenses started at $210,000 for five nodes when it launched five years ago.

In its recent licensed versions, ParAccel announced "right to deploy" licensing, which gives customers the right to use as much data with a data warehouse operation as they wish, a few days before the general availability of Redshift. Such a license is an alternative to the traditional, pay-by-the-TB-of-data used in data warehouse systems.

"Amazon is using our technology for a major service offering, and that gives us a much stronger aura of credibility to any customer who might be concerned about dealing with a small company," CEO Chuck Berger told InformationWeek last December. That will help ParAccel win deals against its usual competitors, he noted at the time.

Cloud Connect returns to Silicon Valley, April 2-5, 2013, for four days of lectures, panels, tutorials and roundtable discussions on a comprehensive selection of cloud topics taught by leading industry experts. Join us in Silicon Valley to see new products, keep up-to-date on industry trends and create and strengthen professional relationships. Use Priority Code TLIWEEK by March 2 to save an extra $100 off the early bird price of Conference Passes. Register for Cloud Connect now.

Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing