Friday, August 13, 2010

NASA Turns to Amazon Cloud Services for Light Speed Processing

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory had over 180,000 images from a Saturn mission that they tried to process on their own computer equipment. Well... According to JPL Chief Technology Officer, Soderstrom, it took: 

"It took 15 days, straight 24-by-7 processing, and it still wasn't finished"

To test the hype of Cloud Computing, NASA pulled out a credit card and spun up 60 processors with Amazon Cloud Services.

The following Realization occurred for NASA:
  • Amazon's cloud finished processing it in five hours
  • Total cost of $200.
  • That breaks down to .66 cent per minute of use to process 180,000 images; and anybody can use Amazon Cloud Services if you don't want to own the hardware and just want to rent some computing power.
Since time is money for so many businesses and government agencies it only a matter of time before we see more uses of cloud computing involving critical, confidential or sensitive data.

"That was some real validation for sure."

Though the image processing didn't involve critical mission or sensitive information, Soderstrom says it showed what could be done with cloud computing. And, as JPL works closely with vendors, they developed a comfort level to place more sensitive data on the cloud.

"We have validated that it can be secure if you do it right, and it can certainly save a lot of time and money."

Time, Soderstrom says, is a huge deal:

"It's more than people anticipate, maybe the biggest benefit of all. You don't have to find space in the data center, but you can just rent time.

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