A week in the cloud… (Just to clarify)

AWSA comment on yesterday’s post by Andy C makes me think I should clarify a couple of things I mentioned in yesterday’s post.

“Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), not really what I consider the cloud.”

For *me* the definition of cloud must include some value-add in relation to ease of use. I’ve used IaaS on Azure, AWS and Oracle Cloud. In all cases I’m left to do the same administration stuff I had to when I was on a physical box or a VM on a local virtual machine. For *me* it only becomes cloud when I have Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS), where the administration is simplified greatly through tooling. IaaS is just another hosting provider. It’s not really cloud in *my* book. That’s not to say it’s not cool or useful. It’s just not cloud to *me*.

Notice the heavy use of *me* and *my*. This is not the law or even some text book definition. It’s just the way I feel about it, having used a number of hosting companies for business and personal use prior to “the cloud”. You are allowed to think differently, and certainly cloud providers do. 🙂

Note. I’m not discounting the easy of use afforded during provisioning and disposing of resources, but if you’ve worked with a proper virtual infrastructure you’ve had that for a long time. Once again, I’m not saying it’s not cool. I’m saying the day-to-day job as a system administrator or DBA is unchanged by IaaS.

“It’s a much lower spec box (memory, CPU, disk capacity), so really it’s more expensive.”

One of the things we notice when moving people from physical to virtual is they want a complete replica of their server, even if that server is mostly idle, using no memory and a fraction of the disk space it is allocated. One of the good points of virtual infrastructure is consolidation, which is not going to happen well if everyone insists on over-allocating resource they don’t use. OK, you’ll probably jump in with comments about memory ballooning, and thin provisioning, but you get where I’m coming from here.

The cloud providers keep their costs down and can make their money because of this consolidation, so it’s obvious you are not getting a “full server” unless you are willing to pay for dedicated resource.

When I got my dedicated server I significantly over-specced it, because I didn’t really known how much resource I needed, having only run the website on shared resource up to that point. In moving to AWS I now have 1/4 of the cores, 1/2 the memory and 1/10 of the disk space, but it costs approximately the same money. I’ve moved from bargain bucket dedicated hosting provider to world dominating cloud provider, so it’s not the fairest comparison, but the cloud is not cheaper for me. If my resource needs grow to the point where I would have maxed out the old dedicated server, the AWS costs would be significantly higher.

As I said yesterday, there are ways I can make the service cheaper once I confirm what resources I need, so maybe the final solution will actually be cheaper, but I don’t know that yet. The point is, there is the automatic assumption that the cloud is always cheaper and it’s just not true all the time. It comes with other benefits of course, but if cost is your prime metric, the cloud is not always the winner.

Conclusion

As I said in yesterday’s post, I’m really happy with the move so far. I like the additional flexibility, potential HA improvements in the case of hardware failure and the architectural options it has opened up. Having said that, I’m not blind to the fact the system administration is no simpler than it was with a dedicated server and it is a similar cost for less resource.

This is not meant to be provocative to either the cloud or anti-cloud zealots. It’s just an opinion. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Author: Tim...

DBA, Developer, Author, Trainer.