amazon ec2 hosting?

Zach White zach at
Tue Jul 13 12:12:52 CDT 2010

I agree with most of the below, and would add the following:

EC2 is more expensive if you have a static load, or if you don't
aggressively manage your pool of VM's. If you aren't using S3, AWS or
another amazon service, it's even more expensive. If all you need is a
static pool of VM servers, and you don't need to scale up and down quickly,
there are cheaper options than EC2.

Besides running your servers in-house and the plethora of cloud services,
there are the traditional VPS services which differ from cloud hosting like
EC2 only in marketing and billing structure, and in some cases an automation
API. The underlying software for most VPS services is Xen or VMware ESX, at
this point. As well there are places that will rent "dedicated servers" or
"managed servers" and have hardware on hand for rapidly deploying new

For the cost of running a busy "Medium" or "Large" EC2 instance for a full
month you can pay for a low end "Managed Server" at a place that will give
you a dedicated server where they manage the hardware, and which will have
similar performance to the EC2 "Large" instance. If you have a static load
or your application requires a single always available DB instance that can
handle your peak load, you may not see much savings with EC2.

However, if you have a variable load and your servers sit idle most of the
time, and you're willing to put in some work to add and remove VM's as
needed (either manually or automatically) you will find that cloud services
can save you a lot of money.

In the end, it will come down to the same old thing: crunch the numbers for
your application and see where you end up.


On Tue, Jul 13, 2010 at 9:29 AM, Simon Waters <simonw at> wrote:

> On Tuesday 13 July 2010 16:28:50 Doug Simmons wrote:
> >
> > Do any of the list members have any experience with this service?
> We are pondering a different cloud system based on XEN offering similar on
> a
> smaller scale than Amazon. Pricing is slightly cheaper, but not much in it.
> They charge for disk I/O bandwidth which required some quick checks on what
> we do, perils of expensive external storage systems.
> In our case we've done a little more than 20 minutes research, but the
> conclusions aren't clear cut.
> I think the motivation for moving to a cloud system is probably not solely
> financial, one has to expect that the option to migrate instances will add
> robustness, the option to add systems flexibility, and the scalability are
> the factors one is looking for. Also these systems have large robust
> storage
> systems which are beyond the pockets of most businesses.
> My concern still is availability. Amazon EC2 I hear good things about. A
> couple of other providers we looked at are not bad, most don't have a track
> record you could point at and think "that is better than a decent hosting
> provider" and dedicated hardware - we routinely get 1 year plus uptimes on
> DELL hardware boxes that are a decade old - when we see top cloud providers
> off air for a couple of days at a time it doesn't convince me.
> I've yet to use a virtualization product that didn't have
> virtualization "bugs", i.e. errors, downtime, or problems due to the
> virtualization process. The OpenVZ stuff we tried didn't memory map files
> correctly, one provider using XEN migrated our instance to different
> hardware
> for maintenance and when it woke up milliseconds later it was 1914 (Postfix
> said it wasn't doing anything till the date was plausible - which was
> probably wise - but did nothing for availability). What I've read of EC2 is
> that it is rather idiosyncratic compared to more recent virtualization
> offerings elsewhere, on the other hand they seem to have been free of major
> problems for a while.
> The XEN provider we've looked at most closely seem promising, they seem to
> have resolved a lot of issues with their earlier system, but I have
> concerns
> at scalability because they limit the available RAM to each instance
> somewhat
> and when you have hundreds of gigabytes of data it would be nice to know
> you
> could scale RAM to something more substantial if needed, and serious disk
> space is expensive in these storage arrays. And they have zero track record
> on their new system because it is new. On the other hand I'm not THAT
> scared
> of virtualization just want to test it the whole way, which is time
> consuming.
> One provider looked solid, but the pricing was high, and the
> marketing/emphasis was all to hosting enterprise servers rather than web
> servers (which is what we want).
> Anyone gone with a dual provider strategy - where they create instances at
> different cloud providers, and fail across on long outages? As that would
> address my key concerns about reliability, but it looks expensive and
> complex
> to implement.
> If there were relatively cheap network storage systems around with suitable
> characteristics I'd be tempted to build our own XEN hosting system to get
> the
> advantages of virtualisation without the pain of a third party
> relationship.
> But I haven't read that bit of 'the Book of XEN' yet, and suspect the
> answer
> is "no".
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