Jul 09 2009

Amazon Web Services

Category: Cloud ComputingTeknovis @ 9:07 pm

I spent my afternoon in the clouds… No, not dreaming!

I was doing some reading about cloud computing, and specifically about the Amazon cloud computing offerings. The Amazon Web Services (AWS) appear to be the most popular.

I did this reading because I intended attending a cloud computing webinar this evening. However, the webinar software would not install for me :(

Anyway, my time was not spent in vain, because I learned a lot! For the sake of convenience, I am including the most relevant AWSs here:

Overall, I was very impressed with what I read :o I think that there are some really useful services here. I think that if I was developing a non-mission critical web application then I would certainly look at AWS due to their simplicity, flexibility, and cost effectiveness. The applications described in Gowalla – Location-based iPhone 3G Application (you need to watch the video) are good examples.

However, I do not think that I would feel comfortable placing a mission critical application into a public cloud. I think that private clouds are the best option in this case. (Although I am still not sure if this is significantly different to having a virtualised back-office :o )

The smaller details that caught my attention were:

  • I am very surprised that Amazon charges for the European services in Dollars instead of Euro. Currency fluctuations may negate some of the price stability that AWS offer. I really do not understand why this is necessary given that the costs in these locations are in Euro :|
  • I am very impressed that Amazon is able to measure such minute amounts of resource usage.
  • Consequently, I am impressed that Amazon is able to efficiently process the corresponding micro-charges. Telcos are usually considered the masters of this :o
  • I know that I am not exactly comparing like for like, but a Blacknight VPS product seems to be much better value than a single EC2 small instance.

Finally, I read about a web site recently that featured on a national television program. The web site was hosted with a traditional hosting service provider, and received a relatively small amount of traffic. However, the web site designers decided to move all of the static web site files to S3 in anticipation of the spike caused by the television appearance.

The web site did experience a huge spike in traffic during the television appearance, and it was able to cope with it. So the web site designers were satisfied with their decision to use S3.

The funny thing about this is that in my opinion it was unnecessary to use S3 because it did not provide any benefits! The reason for my opinion is that all of the web site visitors during that peak were from the geographic area where the television program was being broadcast. Therefore, they were all connecting to the S3 data centre through the same IP exchange. This is also the same IP exchange where the hosting service provider peers. Therefore, it is unlikely that the hosting service provider would have been a greater bottleneck than the S3 :o

Indeed, a well resourced hosting service provider that peers in a national IP exchange should outperform both S3 and CloudFront in countries where Amazon does not have a presence when all of the traffic is originating from that country!

Anyway, right now I feel that I would love to have a personal project to develop using AWS :o

(As a result of this post I have decided to create a dedicated category for cloud computing :o )

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