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Moving possibly to AWS

Moving possibly to AWS

Moving possibly to AWS

(OP)
Hello All,
We are currently hosting with Rackspace. We have an entire environment with them: 1FW - 1 Load Balancer - 2 Web servers (Magento) - 1DB server. They are physical servers (R720s) as was wanted by management. Cost is decent and support is ok minus slightly longer lead times when upgrading hardware. Is anyone with AWS and can give me a reason we should uproot our setup and head to AWS and virtual servers? Management is wanting to head that way because they think it will be cheaper, even though going virtual servers with Rackspace will likely be cheaper than AWS. In house we are almost totally virtual so I understand the allure of VMs vs physical but then you are sharing a mega server with a bunch of other customers.

Essentially I would like to stay with RS but willing to listen to anyone else who can push me in AWS's favor.

Learning - A never ending quest for knowledge usually attained by being thrown in a situation and told to fix it NOW.

RE: Moving possibly to AWS

I don't know your business, or your site, so there may be some things specific to your situation that will argue for or against, but I can give you my impressions from what my company has done.

We have a HUGE web presence, multiple huge web sites with millions of hits per hour. Sometimes per minute. Sometimes per second. We have almost 120 million customers. Traditionally we have hosted everything in-house, in multiple company owned data centers. A year or so ago management decided that "The Cloud" was where unicorns were born and that's where we should be. We started a push to move as much as we could into AWS with the intent of finding cost savings in shutting down major data centers. Us grey hairs rolled our eyes, but we had our marching orders, so we pushed.

Now, after being in AWS for over a year, a lot of the "incentives" we were given to move into it have expired. We are now paying the full cost of living there and the numbers are horrible. Way more than a self owned data center. Management's knee jerk response was to tell us to shut everything down at night. Sorry, not an option. Our push now is to move everything we can back into our data centers. We are not allowed to leave a server up 24x7 due to the cost (if possible). Well, we are monitoring the usage throughout the day and if an app is under a certain threshold of usage, it needs to come back in.

The use case that seems to work is if you can have just one (or two for redundancy) EC2 instances as the core, and then spin up EC2 instances as needed for load. Now while that sounds good, we have found that a fully loaded and configured EC2 instance can take over an hour to spin up, which means growth for handling load is not real responsive. If your load consists of short spikes, your spike may be over by the time another instance is up to handle it. It looks good on paper, but it does not respond quickly. The best is if you have a usage pattern, like known peaks, day vs night, that you can adjust the number of servers you have up during known high demand periods.

RE: Moving possibly to AWS

(OP)
Hello Sam and thanks for replying.
I will 100% agree with your line of thinking on overall cost of our physical datacenter vs. the cloud. When we moved to the cloud the cost savings seemed all fine up front but got pricey very quickly. From the network side of things, it is nice having our webservers outside of our network as it is one less hole for the baddies to try and breach. Unfortunately, it seems everything is going to a subscription model for payment. The days of the one time purchase are long gone. Hell even MS is doing that same business model with O365 as are all antivirus companies, even for home use.

We are a pretty large online wholesaler but since our customer base is resale businesses, we do not have quite the traffic you do.

Learning - A never ending quest for knowledge usually attained by being thrown in a situation and told to fix it NOW.

RE: Moving possibly to AWS

We are more of a service company, but we do sell devices and accessories. (Can you hear me now? bigsmile)

To me, whenever I hear the phrase "The Cloud", my brain translates it transparently into "other people's computers". Some people think it's a magical thing but you're just paying to use someone else's computers. That's what Rackspace is. Rackspace (as I understand it) is a bit more barebones, but in essence not really different than AWS. Where AWS adds value (and lets them demand more money) is all of the additional functionality and automation that they provide on top of it all. In addition to simple EC2 instances, you have storage that can be expanded on demand, elastic this and elastic that, databases, load balancers, etc. That's what gives AWS its "cloudiness". I'm sure Rackspace has some automation, but Amazon seems to take it to an extreme. But you pay for that extreme.

As far as arguments for AWS over Rackspace, or vice versa. Or over self hosting. I've found you can make a credible business case for any direction you want to go. In the end our goal is to either save the company money, or make the company money. If you are considering moving a move to AWS, I would recommend just doing your homework (which it sounds like you are).

Your footprint is very small. One FW, one LB, and three servers. If you have an AWS FW, Elastic Load Balancer, two EC2 server instances, one RDS instance (DB), and how much ever S3 storage you need. I would think that would be very inexpensive on Rackspace. AWS is guaranteed to cost more. Since you know what you need, it should be easy to get a cost estimate from Amazon. Make sure you DO NOT use any incentives in your cost estimate. What I mean by that, I believe we were basically given free use of AWS for non-production usage. As much as we could eat. That was good for getting our people trained up, but it also got us deeply embedded into AWS. Then the incentives expired and the costs went through the roof. It's kind of the drug pusher sales model.

Sorry if this is a bit rambling. I'm writing it while participating in a meeting.

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