Hosting Tips for Startups- Review of Amazon Web Services

[Guest post by Deepak Vincchi, founder of nineMotion, a startup in service marketplace domain (read our review). In this post, Deepak shares his experience of running nineMotion on Amazon web services.]

Website availability and scalability are two critical requirements for a satisfying user experience for a typical Internet based company.

Traditionally, this is handled using operations heavy infrastructure like monitoring the website constantly for its availability as well as the peak and average loads. Data replication, mirroring and backups are also needed to ensure that the website survives server outages. Advance infrastructure planning also becomes important due to lead times to implement them. I

f you expect your traffic to double in a month, you need to be prepared in advance (sometimes weeks in advance) to setup additional hardware and bandwidth. Moreover, adding new servers are a “step change” in cost and most of the time there is a lot of unutilized space and computing power. This is an inefficient method to run operations. Planning and monitoring infrastructure today is cumbersome for startups and takes away the precious energy that could be better used to manage its growing business.

A better way:

nineMotion was looking for an infrastructure solution that can grow and scale seamlessly with its needs. It should be able to optimally suit any seasonal spurts, should be reliable and grow when needed, and should be cost-effective. In Amazon Web Services, it found the right solution.

Amazon Web Services:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides customers the opportunity to replace existing infrastructure and scale up or down based on resource demands. This flexibility allows you to run your business at “web-scale”–uninhibited by growth in the number of geographic markets. On average, businesses spend 70% of their time building

and maintaining and worrying about infrastructure, and 30% of their time focused on the ideas that will propel their business forward. Web-scale computing is helping to invert the 70/30 ratio, enabling you to spend your energy creating the difference that will make your business successful. (quoted from amazon website )

Using Amazon Webservice called EC2 (stands for Elastic Compute Cloud), websites can do scalable deployment of applications. They are able to create, launch and terminate server instances on demand, hence the term “elastic”. The best part is that you now have to only pay for what you use. You can get as many instances up any time and bring them down when needed. This allows you to use computing as an “utility” and save costs as well as ensure scalability.

For example, you start 10 new instances of your application to take care of your peak load, and then shut them down after 2 hours, you pay additional amount for only 10*2 which is 20 instance-hours and nothing more. Starting & shutting of instances can be done within minutes.

Similarly, another part of Amazon Webservice called S3 (stands for Simple Storage Service) allows you to use just as much storage space as you need. S3 provides unlimited storage through a simple web services interface, and this storage is much cheaper than other options. Data can be easily stored and retrieved at any time, from anywhere on the web. Amazon charges in proportion to the amount of data stored.

nineMotion reduced operations cost as well as hosting cost by 65% (earlier it was using dedicated servers). The icing on the cake is that these cost savings came along with greater reliability, scalability and availability of the website.

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What has been your experience of AWS?

Read the earlier post “Hosting Tips for Startups – Shared or VPS? What’s the right choice?