Whats wrong with AWS & other cloud tech?

Nathan Blackham kemotaha at gmail.com
Fri Nov 18 09:35:50 MST 2011

Disclosure:  I work for AWS.
Also pardon the top post, I haven't seen a phone that can properly trim and bottom post.

The biggest thing with moving to the "cloud" is that to fully utilize it's potential, it requires a different mindset.  Take a look at the netflix blog for tons of information on things they have had to change in the way that things work.  By setting up an application a little differently, you can take advantage of things like autoscaling.  Especially if you consider each machine as disposable and plan for the case when it will fail.  The most successful businesses in the cloud could not run the same way in a traditional datacenter due to the cost difference.   

Some other pros are that if things are designed right it takes minutes to increase your capacity by bring one or nodes up to handle additional traffic.  You can also reduce operational costs by using some additional services like RDS and letting RDS handle mysql failover and replication.

Some of the cons are that due to the way that cloud is set up, it is as contusive to traditional type hosting.  For example, you don't get a serial console with EC2.  This makes it harder to troubleshoot boot issues especially if you are running a single server.  Moving to the cloud also might require you to modify your code base to use some of the cloud features.

You made a comment about the outage in April.  I know that we have taken it very seriously and have identified and implemented things to prevent similar things from happening.  It was a all hands on deck situation. On the side, I manage a friends site and even though he was affected and a single instance user (the site doesn't get enough traffic to justify anything else, yet), I was able to take a snapshot of the instance and launch in a different AZ and get him back up after a few hours even though the main instance that was affected was stuck for the whole duration of the outage.

Hopefully that gives you some more info to make your decisions.
Sent with my thumbs

-----Original Message-----
From: Lloyd Brown <lloyd_brown at byu.edu>
Sender: plug-bounces at plug.org
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 08:59:12 
To: <plug at plug.org>
Reply-To: Provo Linux Users Group <plug at plug.org>
Subject: Re: Whats wrong with AWS & other cloud tech?

When people consider "the cloud", the major objection I've heard is what
you've already articulated:  Data security.  In essence, you (or your
client) needs to decide whether the encryption systems and standards
that they have in place, are enough to sufficiently protect the data.

Working this way is essentially giving up control of the hardware to a
third party.  If you (or they, or HIPAA, or PCI) are okay with that, and
there's a significant business case, then go ahead.  I'd take it slow,
to make sure it gets done right, but if you've answered all the
concerns, then why not?

Lloyd Brown
Systems Administrator
Fulton Supercomputing Lab
Brigham Young University

On 11/18/2011 08:54 AM, S. Dale Morrey wrote:
> Hi Everyone,
> I just wanted to take a moment and start a thread on the current state
> of "The Cloud".
> While it's not a term I'm particularly fond of, I've found the value
> proposition of PaaS like Amazon AWS & Google App Engine to be
> compelling (haven't really tried any of the others).
> Thus far I've only used "The Cloud", for toy apps and demos, I haven't
> even considered banking an entire business on it.
> Recently though I was in a discussion with a client who has run the
> numbers and realized that they will save about 80% on infrastructure
> costs if they offload all their IT into a cloud solution.
> Frankly, this is giving me a gut twisting feeling but I'm not sure why.
> My first instinct was to try and bring up the AWS outage last April
> that knocked so many people offline for so long.
> However this setup is designed to resist that sort of outage by
> leveraging geographically diverse data centers and pushing static
> content to edge servers (Elastic Beanstalk + CloudFront).
> Other than that I can't really think of anymore objections to it, but
> something doesn't feel right and I just can't put my finger on it.
> So I'm soliciting the feedback of the group to help me come up with a
> proper list of pros & cons for moving the workload of about 20 servers
> off into the cloud.
> For the record the client has 20 servers located in a single
> datacenter, and it was during the design of their business continuity
> plan that they realized they suffer from the potential for a
> catastrophic single point of failure.  Client is a healthcare records
> management & billing company, so HIPAA & PCI are both significant
> concerns. But they do have strong encryption on the data and there are
> pretty tight controls on who exactly gets access to what data.
> Thoughts?
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