Cloud

AWS launches largest ever 2TB X1 instance, supports SAP HANA

AWS finally unveiled its 2TB X1 EC2 instance announced at last year's RE:Invent conference, heating up competition with Microsoft and driving partners deeper into the cloud.

Image: iStockphoto/zakokor

On Wednesday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) released its largest ever virtual server for its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). The 2TB X1 instance was originally announced at the 2015 AWS RE:Invent conference, and purports to make AWS more usable for enterprise applications and massively large data sets.

The new X1 instance's 2 TB of DDR4 memory, is eight times greater than any other instance offered for EC2. Four Intel Xeon E7 8880 v3 (Haswell) processors make up each X1 instance, which are natively optimized for Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) for free.

SEE: 10 highlights from AWS re:Invent 2015 that cloud experts must know (TechRepublic)

The announcement comes in tandem with the 2016 SAP SAPPHIRE NOW conference being held in Orlando, Florida. As such, AWS focused heavily on the X1 instance's compatibility with enterprise workloads and running in-memory databases like SAP HANA, as well as big data engines like Apache Spark and Presto.

According to an AWS press release on the announcement: "X1 instances are certified by SAP to run production environments of the next-generation Business Suite S/4HANA, Business Suite on HANA (SoH), Business Warehouse on HANA (BW), and Data Mart Solutions on HANA on the AWS cloud."

At the onset, it's worth noting how massive 2TB is for an EC2 instance. But, other than simply being large in size, the Amazon announcement carries some deeper implications for both AWS and SAP.

First, this points to a growing battle in the cloud space to be able to more effectively accommodate enterprise clients. On Wednesday, SAP and Microsoft announced a new distribution partnership that would see SAP HANA deployed on Microsoft Azure to help with Office 365 integrations.

As noted by ZDNet's Liam Tung, Microsoft announced a slew of large instances for running HANA in Azure, including a 3TB instance. However, the 3TB instance isn't live yet and AWS took advantage of this fact to boast that its X1 instance offers more memory than any rival SAP-certified cloud instance that is "available today." Burn.

Microsoft Azure is one of the few vendors that can offer a true hybrid cloud solution, handling both the private and public cloud aspects at each end. This is one of the many reasons that Azure is growing in the cloud market, although it still pales in comparison to AWS in terms of revenue. However, these large instances give these top vendors a new battleground on which to tout their wares.

The AWS announcement, and subsequent continuation of SAP's partnership with AWS, is the latest in a plethora of news coming from SAP that could shed light on the company's strategy for the future. In short, SAP seems to be banking on strong partnerships with legacy vendors to pick up the slack in areas in which it has performed less than ideally in the past.

In early May, SAP and Apple announced a partnership to bring SAP's analytics to iOS apps. SAP also recently partnered with Dell on some new architectures for cloud and IoT, on top of the connections it has with AWS and Azure. Creating powerful analytics tools is now an easy task, and SAP seems to want to offer its services to as many enterprise vendors as possible in exchange for a boost in its mobile and cloud prowess.

SEE: Cloud platform spotlight: The top three contenders (Tech Pro Research)

According to AWS, the X1 EC2 instances are only currently available in the following regions: US East (North Virginia), US West (Oregon), EU (Ireland), EU (Frankfurt), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), Asia Pacific (Singapore), and Asia Pacific (Sydney); but more will be coming in the future.

Interested parties must fill out a request form for the instances, and can take a look at the pricing here.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. AWS unveiled its 2TB X1 EC2 instance, the largest instance available for EC2. The X1 instance could make AWS more usable for enterprise applications and better able to handle large sets of data.
  2. Both Microsoft and AWS have both recently announced new, or extended, partnerships with SAP along with large instance types. The battle for cloud superiority continues to grow but, either way, enterprises win because they get access to better infrastructure tools as a result.
  3. SAP continues to strengthen existing ties and create new partnerships with other legacy tech vendors, in an effort to use their cloud and mobile strengths to extend the user base for SAP HANA.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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