Monthly Archives: June 2010
Fifteen years ago I built my first web development platform or framework called SAGE that was used by garden.com to go public. Nine years ago I built a new platform called The Universal Web Engine (UWE) that we have used at Digital Cheetah since its inception. About three years ago I mapped out a new system that was going to replace the UWE. I actually began to implement it in 2008, but was forced to shelve it’s development due to the economy. This month I began looking at starting this new platform in earnest.
My plan was to use Python as the primary development language and I was going to take all of the ideas from the last fifteen years and develop the “perfect” system for the creation of 1000’s of custom websites. Luckily before I had really started I rediscovered Django.
Django, named after the legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt, appears to be the perfect place to start to develop a new framework. It doesn’t do everything the way I had planned, but it does so much more and is flexible enough to allow me to augment it with at least a few of my own ideas.
To the many happy developers and designers already using Django this is probably no big surprise. But for someone who has been used to developing his own frameworks from scratch this is a huge departure. I for one am really excited that I can start building at a much higher level.
I believe using Cloud Computing and Django I will truly be able to deliver a platform that will allow Digital Cheetah to continue to provide world class custom solutions for the next ten years and beyond. And just maybe we’ll be able to build a new website for ourselves too, instead of the eight year old one we currently have!
So it is clear that I have been impressed by Amazon Web Services and Cloud Computing in general. I remain convinced that virtualization will eventually be the new order of things.
However, I have experienced a few bumps in the road. Firstly, Amazon Support. So far I have been unable to get them to respond to my enquirers. My guess is that unless you pay for support you’ll be primarily stuck with forums and the help docs. This is fine if you know about it up front, and I expect to factor in fees for Silver or Gold support.
Secondly, the Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) appears to be a lot slower than setting up your own MySQL instance. In my benchmarks, using the standard MySQL Benchmark Suite, RDS runs at about 6 times slower. I tried my tests with MySQL running on the same instance and also a different instance and in both cases RDS was about 6 times slower. This doesn’t mean that RDS is unusable and might be perfect for you. But at this point it feels like more tuning is required.
Finally, the whole issue of security. One of the problems with offering such an all encompassing and compelling service is that you basically hold a big flag up to all would be hackers out there. I’m sure that Amazon are better than most companies at providing security for their web services. However, by being so big and so good the threat of being hacked goes up proportionally too. This is the one area I have to get my head around before I recommend we move our enterprise to Amazon. In the meantime I am looking at other companies that use Eucalyptus to provide a private cloud with similar features to Amazon, but with a little more control and anonymity.