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Amazon Web Services Launches M4 General-Purpose Instances

Businesses that need to handle workloads with a range of different demands have a selection of new cloud-based, general-purpose instances to choose from through Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS on Thursday announced the availability of M4 instances, a next-generation Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) offering.

Powered by custom 2.4-GHz Intel Xeon E5-2676 v3 Haswell processors, M4 instances are designed to support a variety of applications, including relational and in-memory databases, gaming servers, caching fleets, batch processing and business applications like SAP and Microsoft SharePoint, according to AWS.

In addition to announcing the new M4 instances, AWS also unveiled price reductions for its M3 and C4 on-demand and one-year reserved instances. The 5-percent price cuts are available through Amazon data centers in northern Virginia, northern California, Oregon, Ireland, Germany, Singapore, Australia and Japan.

‘Balance of Compute, Memory and Network Resources’

“M4 instances bring new capabilities to the general purpose family through the use of a custom Intel Haswell processor and larger instance sizes,” said Matt Garman, Vice President for Amazon EC2 at AWS. Coupled with enhanced bandwidth and networking capabilities, “M4 is one of our most powerful instance types and a terrific choice for workloads requiring a balance of compute, memory, and network resources,” Garman added.

The new M4 instances also offer dedicated bandwidth to Amazon Block Store, along with enhanced networking for lower network latencies, lower network jitter and higher packet-per-second performance, according to AWS. With enhanced networking, the M4 instances can deliver up to four times the packet rate of instances without enhanced networking.

Amazon first launched a single instance type of EC2 in 2006, and has added numerous other instance types since then. The new M4 instances are available in five sizes ranging from two virtual CPUs with 8 GB of memory to 40 virtual CPUs with 160 GB of memory.

Growing Competition, Growing Demand

AWS is the “overwhelming market share leader” in infrastructure-as-a-service cloud-based services, according to the most recent Magic Quadrant study from Gartner Inc. Although Amazon faces growing cloud competition from companies like Microsoft and Google, it retains a multiyear competitive advantage, Gartner said.

Enterprises like HubSpot and ProQuest use AWS cloud services to provide a range of services to their own customers. The largest new M4 instances, for example, will enable HubSpot to “significantly reduce our cluster size while driving down costs through better hardware utilization,” according to Whitney Sorenson, Vice President of Platform Infrastructure.

AWS said it has more than a million cloud services customers in 190 countries. In its 2014 annual report, it said usage grew by 90 percent in the fourth quarter alone. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos noted in the report that he is optimistic about AWS’ continued growth prospects because “AWS is far less capital intensive than the mode it’s replacing — do-it-yourself data centers.” He said that AWS has higher utilization rates and is more efficient because it’s driven by pooled workloads that allow for economies of scale.

“[T]he size of the opportunity is big, ultimately encompassing global spend on servers, networking, data centers, infrastructure software, databases, data warehouses, and more,” Bezos said in the report. “Similar to the way I think about Amazon retail, for all practical purposes, I believe AWS is market-size unconstrained.”

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