One of the biggest selling points made by many of the cloud vendors is the lower cost of cloud services compared to the in-house solutions. Even though traditional vendors pushed back on this idea, it didn’t stand out because they usually mixed FUD with some solid arguments on the cost. In fact, for a long time I have been arguing that cloud vendors should focus on other cloud advantages like agility, ease of collaboration, etc. over the cost factor. Looks like eHarmony, the online dating site, is making a case against the cost argument in favor of the cloud.
Rich Miller at DataCenter Knowledge wrote an article on friday highlighting how eHarmony has reduced the TCO by 74% by moving from cloud to SeaMicro based clusters in a colocation center.
For several years, eHarmony ran its Hadoop operations in the cloud, which provided flexibility and scalability. But as its operations continued to grow, the company evaluated other options, including SeaMicro. eHarmony was able to purchase the SeaMicro SM10000 in a configuration that enabled its Hadoop application to complete its run in the same time four-hour time frame it had been taking in the cloud.
eHarmony said the switch reduced its reduced its operating expenses by “tens of thousands of dollars a month,” and its total cost of ownership (TCO) by 74 percent.
SeaMicro came to prominence by claiming to offer very low powered servers built using Intel Atom chips. Some of the features of SM10000 family of high density low powered servers, like the ones used by eHarmony in their clusters, include:
- Dramatic reductions in TCO. SM10000s use 1/4th of the power as the normal servers and 1/4th of the space of today’s best in class volume servers
- 512 1.66 GHz 64-bit x86 Intel Atom cores in 10 RU (2048 CPUs per rack)
- Runs off the shelf OS and applications
- Reduces capital expenses by consolidating layers of expensive networking infrastructure
- Provides unique ability to guarantee performance and security for cloud deployments
- The first server architecture to support all CPU instruction sets
In fact, some cloud evangelists may find it difficult to believe that there are cost savings associated with a move to in-house solutions. I am not all that surprised due to the following two reasons:
- The biggest reason for the savings is definitely due to the low cost of SeaMicro servers and the reduction it brings to operational expenses as highlighted in Rich’s post. In this way, we can say that SeaMicro has disrupted the space with not just the altruistic greener potential but also by offering considerable cost savings
- Another reason I could speculate is the so called “Zynga Effect”. As we learned from Zynga during Interop, they use public clouds in the early days after releasing a game. They tap into the public clouds when their traffic is unpredictable and when there is a need for instantaneous scalability whenever a game takes off big time. Once the usage stabilizes and becomes predictable, Zynga take their games to the private clouds inside their datacenters. My speculation is that eHarmony’s needs are more or less stabilized and they could afford to move their computing to their collocation space. This way, they can take advantage of the cost savings offered by SeaMicro servers along with any cost savings associated with “Zynga Effect”
Again, cost is just one small factor compared to many other advantages of cloud computing. However, this piece of information from eHarmony is interesting and, probably, could serve as a lesson for service providers planning to offer their own cloud infrastructure services. Similarly, enterprises planning to invest in private cloud resources can also take advantage of the low powered SeaMicro servers and save in both the capital and operational expenditures.
- eHarmony Switches from Cloud to Atom Servers (datacenterknowledge.com)