If you have been a consumer of cloud computing for any length of time, you probably know what an AMI is. The Amazon AMI (Amazon Machine Image) defines a virtual machine with its associated operating system and application software integrated as a complete image. A user can launch “instances” using these AMIs to run their applications in the cloud.
The Nimbix NAE (Nimbix Application Environment) defines the operating system and application software as a complete image, much like the AMI. These “environments” can be provisioned onto any number of hardware platforms to run applications in the cloud.
So what’s the difference besides just another acronym? The difference comes down to the kind of problems you are trying to solve. Most public clouds were originally offered to handle light weight web service applications. But what if your applications require more hardware performance? What if they need GPUs for real-time rendering or to perform parallel calculations at bare metal speeds? Do your cloud cluster workloads suffer from performance bottlenecks? If you have been running your high performance or batch applications in AMIs on AWS, here are 5 reasons you might consider implementing them in a Nimbix NAE:
Most public clouds are built using virtualization technology. This means that a software hypervisor sits between the actual server hardware and your application. While the “hypervisor tax” in a lab environment is not terrible, performance of a virtual machine will always be slower than its bare metal counterpart. However, when running in a real world public cloud environment, where physical servers may be heavily subscribed, performance of an application may vary widely. This may be tolerable for light-weight web service applications, but when running high performance applications for data processing (whether transcoding videos or running engineering simulations), this penalty can add up. If a user is paying by the hour, slower performance means longer run times, and longer runtimes equate to higher cloud costs.
It may be tempting to compare instance hourly pricing to machine hour pricing as apples to apples, however, this is not a fair comparison. Physical cores attached to physical memory will indeed cost more than virtual cores attached to virtual memory on an hourly basis. Ultimately, the best way to compare cloud costs is to look at the cost per workload. Users must also consider other less obvious costs associated with AMIs, such as EBS volumes, data transfer, I/O charges, etc. The Nimbix NAE is billed to the minute, delivering better granularity while also providing an “all in” cost on total cloud usage. The net result is overall lower spending and higher performance for HPC workloads.
Nimbix NAEs come ready to run as batch applications. This greatly simplifies interaction with the Nimbix cloud since NAEs can be provisioned and de-provisioned automatically as a processing task. While AMIs can be turned on and off, NAEs can simply be “run.” When your application exits after processing your data, the NAE is de-provisioned billing stops.
For high performance computing users, many applications may require a single processing task to run across a cluster. The Nimbix NAE is by design a parallel processing environment. A simple API call will create an N node cluster where each node is communicating via ultra-low latency Infiniband interconnect. This delivers higher throughput for processing and dramatically eases the deployment of HPC applications in a cloud environment.
While self-service is a key characteristic of any public cloud, we don’t have to take the human completely out of the machine. Sometimes, great solutions are engineered when people talk to people. This is particularly important on a metered service that is pay per use. In using an NAE, the Nimbix team is here to help with questions while maintaining high levels of human support.
In summary, for high performance computing or high performance data analytics applications, Nimbix NAEs provide a compelling cloud alternative to Amazon AMIs for batch processing. Whether you wish to boost performance, reduce your monthly cloud bill, get more human support, or build high performance cloud clusters, Nimbix NAEs are certainly worth a test drive.