Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back. —Piet Hein

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Turn off the lights when you're not using them, please

One of the things that struck me about this week's new Amazon EC2 features was the pricing model for Elastic IP addresses:
$0.01 per hour when not mapped to a running instance
The idea is to encourage people to stop hogging public IP addresses, which are a limited resource, when they don't need them.

I think one way of viewing EC2 - and the other Amazon utility services - is as a way of putting very fine-grained costs on various computing operations. So will such a pricing model drive us to minimise the computing resources we use to solve a particular problem? My hope is that making computing costs more transparent will at least make us think about what we're using more, in the way metered electricity makes (some of) us think twice about leaving the lights on. Perhaps we'll even start talking about optimizing for monetary cost or energy usage rather than purely raw speed?

1 comment:

Theo said...

The utility computing model does rely on virtualization to deliver its goodness, and virtualization is by its indirection somewhat wasteful. This indirection is one of the reasons that parallel applications common in aerospace and automotive can't really find a cost effective environment at Amazon. If your application demands efficiency to differentiate then resource control (computes, memory, bandwidth, and latency) are more important. If you have a very loose computation were latency doesn't matter much, then utility computing is wonderful and the virtualization really helps reduce cost by only accruing when used.