I have just been evaluating Amazon Web Services for the last couple of days and thus far I have been utterly impressed. In fact, I can’t remember the last time that a collection of technologies worked so well out of the box. Aside from the Richard Stallman concerns (which are real if a bit dramatic) the only issue I have come across so far is that Amazon have so many impressive features it takes a while to figure out the best selection of options.
I have been creating and deleting “servers”, adding disks, load balancing, databases, monitoring, and firewalls and everything I do takes a minute or two. In the world I come from it takes 7-14 days to buy a server, 1-2 days to provision it, and if I get something wrong I have to deal with it. What is most impressive is how all of this is achieved by the simple web interface with zero external assistance. Quite a contrast to the number of people that I have to rely in my current situation. Also, because things are so fast, it is really easy to try out some packages or installs and if you don’t like them you can instantly go back to where you were before.
I am keeping an eye on the meter too, if you go crazy it seems that prices could get fairly high. However, based on the amount of money we currently pay on our co-location solution I still think we can do things quite a lot cheaper in the cloud. The selection of services appropriate to the size and requirements of your client are imperative to get a handle on costs. This is where the Amazon approach can score because instead of giving all clients the same set of features you choose the appropriate set-up for each client and if they want more features they are there and they pay for them.
Will we save money in the cloud? I think so, but for me it is not so much about saving money as it is in saving time, increasing reliability, providing a better service to our clients, and offering them the options they are looking for – these really are the compelling reasons for cloud computing.
Cloud Computing is a harder sell if you already have a good hardware and software infrastructure. However, if you are starting a new company or a new project that requires new hardware I urge you to try Amazon out. Until a few months ago I was a skeptic but I have looked at clouds from sides now and am very pleased at what I have seen.