With the recent AWS announcement, AWS customers can now leverage spot instances to crunch their HIPAA big data workloads. This can help decrease the compute costs of these jobs by up to 90%, making EC2 a cost effective option for crunching large amounts of data that include Protected Health Information.
Amazon’s BAA with its HIPAA compliant customers requires that all EC2 instances that process PHI must run in dedicated tenancy mode. Until now, spot instances were not available in dedicated tenancy mode, leaving this cost effective option unavailable for processing PHI.
Spot instance pricing is Amazon’s method of selling excess capacity that can be pre-empted if needed. Spot pricing is market based, and often falls well below even the steepest discounts afforded with long term commitments. Since the nodes can be pre-empted, spot instances are not suitable for many types of workloads, but most cluster compute technology is designed to tolerate node losses, making spot instances a great way to save money on short lived tasks that require high compute power.
I took a quick peek in the AWS interface, and didn’t see any option to leverage dedicated spot instances in AWS’ managed Hadoop framework, EMR. Hopefully we will see that soon!