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How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Services
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How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Services

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Thousands of companies worldwide engage in cloud computing to get financial and technical ...

Thousands of companies worldwide engage in cloud computing to get financial and technical
benefits. Many succeed, yet many more cannot help making mistakes that hinder their efficiency.
This white paper will explain how you can win with cloud computing and what challenges you
need to overcome. It will also show how to avoid the most common mistakes made by companies
using Amazon Web Services, the most popular cloud computing offerings.

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    How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Services How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Services Document Transcript

    • Cloud Computing: How toSolve Challenges and AvoidTypical Mistakes UsingAmazon Web ServicesHandbook and TipsAbstract:Thousands of companies worldwide engage in cloud computing to get financial and technicalbenefits. Many succeed, yet many more cannot help making mistakes that hinder their efficiency.This white paper will explain how you can win with cloud computing and what challenges youneed to overcome. It will also show how to avoid the most common mistakes made by companiesusing Amazon Web Services, the most popular cloud computing offerings.By Michael Fedotov, Renat Khasanshyn, and Alex Khizhnyak
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web ServicesContents1. Executive Summary ................................................................................................................32. Cloud Computing is a New Name for an Old Good Thing ....................................................33. Four Common Challenges of Cloud Computing ...................................................................4 3.1. Different standards................................................................................................................... 4 3.2. Caring about security ............................................................................................................ 5 3.3. Application performance .......................................................................................................... 5 3.4. Interaction between private and public clouds ........................................................................ 64. Amazon Web Services: Opportunities in the Cloud ............................................................. 6 4.1. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) ..................................................................................... 7 4.2. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) ................................................................................... 7 4.3. Amazon SimpleDB ................................................................................................................... 85. Amazon Web Services: Challenges and Mistakes to Avoid .................................................8 5.1. Scalability does not mean auto-scaling ................................................................................... 8 5.2. Disregarding safety of data ...................................................................................................... 8 5.3. Non-standard URLs and indexing ........................................................................................... 96. Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 97. About the Authors...................................................................................................................9 © Altoros Systems 2
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Services1. Executive SummaryAccording to a recent study by Microsoft, about 30% ofcompanies plan to integrate cloud computing into theirinfrastructures within the next two years. The tendency is Photo hostingnot hard to explain. Another survey by Avanade, a global IT service SmugMugconsultancy, revealed that four out of five IT managers and saved $1,000,000 inexecutives believe their existing internal IT systems are too 7 months withexpensive. In the current economic situation, their costs areincreasing even more. cloud computing.What makes so many companies consider migrating to thecloud is that cloud computing, in addition to its flexibility and scalability, enables companies tosave dramatically. Photo hosting service SmugMug claims to have economized $1,000,000 injust seven months after engaging in the cloud. Thousands of companies have followedSmugMugs example and experienced the same or even higher success.The increasing demand has led to a growing number of related Web service providers, as well.Without a doubt, Amazon Web Services become the most popular one—because of the richestfunctionality and highest safety offered.When rushing into the cloud, many IT executives forget about the new challenges, which makes itharder for them to get all the benefits of cloud computing. Our experience in the cloud has helpedus figure out the most common challenges companies face and the mistakes they frequentlymake. This handbook is here to assist you in solving these issues.2. Cloud Computing is a New Name for an Old GoodThingCloud computing is the evolution of three popular IT business trends: infrastructure as a service(IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and software as a service (SaaS). The main features ofcloud computing include the following:  It is run on the Web (“in the cloud”).  It makes use of a shared infrastructure—sometimes very complex—known as “the cloud,” since it is essentially invisible or untouchable to end-users.  It is commonly offered as an on-demand service, meaning that customers pay only for their usage of the service, not the service itself, and delegate all maintenance issues to the cloud provider.  It offers scalable dynamic resources depending on the current application’s requirements. There is no need to allocate much memory for a simple application, and, on the other hand, any additional resources can be drawn in any time for a complex dynamic application. © Altoros Systems 3
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Services  Usage of cloud computing can be measured and billed exactly for the amount used. This is probably the most adequate method considering the scalability of resources and variable usage intensity. You do not need to overpay!Representing a new approach to information services delivery, cloud computing is beneficial in avariety of ways, including the following:  Cloud computing offers flexibility, making it possible to access information from anywhere. The information is not stored on a local server; it is stored on the Web (“in the cloud”).  Cloud computing is easy to implement; getting up and running takes much less time than ever before.  Cloud computing is cost-effective, as you pay for the service incrementally—the price depends only on your usage!  With cloud computing, there is no need to worry about keeping your software up-to-date, or constantly upgrading your hardware; everything is done by the cloud provider for free.  Cloud computing is safe. Service providers back up their data, so even if one or two servers crash, this does not result in loss of data. Disaster recovery costs with cloud computing are also about half as costly by virtue of cost-effective virtualization.These and other considerations explain the 30 percentincrease that, according to the RSA, cloud computingenterprise usage has seen recently. A survey of American 16% of Americancompanies by the RSA has also revealed that 16% of companies plan tobusinesses plan to migrate to the cloud within the next 12 migrate to the cloudmonths. within the next 12 months.However, like any other technology, cloud computing comeswith its own challenges; and in order to stay effective,companies need to be prepared for them.3. Four Common Challenges of Cloud ComputingCompanies that go for cloud computing without proper preparation are likely to run into a numberof obstacles where they least expect them. The most typical challenges include the following:3.1. Different standardsMajor cloud computing providers, such as Amazon, IBM, Cisco, Salesforce.com, Microsoft, andGoogle, have come up with their own standards of cloud computing, followed by a considerablenumber of smaller providers.While the range of standards to choose from may seem a good thing, you will no longer think sowhen you need to move data from one cloud to another or set up two applications in different © Altoros Systems 4
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Servicesclouds to interact. The cloud is easy and flexible as long as you are within one, but as soon asyou start working with another cloud, nothing is simple anymore.Currently, a universally accessible cloud computing application is more of a dream than a reality.So, one must work hard to make data transfer seamlessly between the clouds.3.2. Caring about securityAccording to the IDC Enterprise Panel, about 75% of IT executives expressed concern aboutsecurity issues with cloud computing. Like getting involved in any other outsourcing relationship,cloud computing means entrusting your data to a third party. Hence, all the security concernsabout data are also handed over to the service provider. Can companies be sure that the cloudwill take good care of their data?The system of user authentication and authorization used by a cloud computing service providershould minimize the risk of data getting into the wronghands. Furthermore, since a cloud is multi-tenant, it ispivotal that a service provider can guarantee faultless datasegregation from other customers. The typical way to Disaster recoverysegregate data is to encrypt it, but, according to Gartner, costs with cloud―encryption accidents can make data totally unusable, and computing areeven normal encryption can complicate availability.‖ twice lower.Another question is whether it is secure to transfer data toand from the cloud. All the transfers should exclude theslimmest chance of interception. Then, what happens when a cloud computing service userremoves some of their data? Basic security requirements generally specify that the data deletedmust be physically removed from the cloud’s servers immediately.One more potential source of risk is today’s erratic economics. If the service provider shouldbecome bankrupt or get swallowed up by a bigger company, what is to become of the data on itsservers?A good cloud computing provider should be able to address these and other questions that mayarise. Moreover, they should be open about all matters that are closely related to their customers.A company that has its data in the cloud has the full right to know where this data is stored (whilein practice companies often do not even know in which country the servers are located), or tocarry out an investigation of inappropriate or illegal activity in the cloud.3.3. Application performanceThere are two aspects that may limit an application’s performance in the cloud.First, it is important to realize that applications in the cloud may run slower than on a localmachine. The very idea of virtualization implies certain performance penalties, so IT executivesshould not be surprised when they notice a 20% or even greater decrease in applicationperformance in the cloud compared to the local environment. However, with some applications,the slowdown in performance will be practically unnoticeable. © Altoros Systems 5
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web ServicesThere are a lot of factors that determine how an application runs in the cloud, such as applicationtype, workload type, hardware, and others. It also matters that with cloud computing, you cannotrely on a homogeneous environment. The cloud is, in fact, quite heterogeneous: different CPUs,different amounts of memory, etc. Being aware of how an application runs in the cloud is crucialfor being realistic about your overall performance.Another virtualization issue is that the maximum amount of memory available on any single virtualmachine is 15.5 GB, so far. While this would probably suffice for most needs and you still canunite the resources of several virtual instances, those applications that use more memory on localmachines may not run smoothly on a single virtual machine in the cloud. Although it is likely thatvirtualization vendors, such as VMware and Citrix, may increase this memory limit in the future,just keep that in mind.3.4. Interaction between private and public cloudsWhen opting for cloud computing, most companies do not externalize all of their data.Considerable amounts of information remain in the so-called ―private‖ cloud, which means that itis still physically stored within a company’s private network.Since data between a private and a public cloud may migrate very often, this process should beas seamless as possible. On top of that, it should meet your security standards. These importantdetails should be arranged before clinching a cloud computing deal.But there is more to it than just that. Imagine that a company decides to back up its local data inthe cloud or to save public cloud data locally. This definitely guarantees better safety of data, butthe issue of synchronization comes up. You do not want to update your data twice and wouldprefer automatic synchronization with the cloud. A good cloud computing provider is the one thatoffers this kind of services to you.4. Amazon Web Services: Opportunities in theCloudWith the wide range of cloud computing services availablein the market today, IT executives sometimes do not knowwhere to look first. In this case, you’d better start with theservices that enjoy the greatest popularity and best Amazon Webreputation today—Amazon Web Services (AWS). Services are based on Amazons ownAmazon Web Services allow companies to use an effective, time-proventime-tested computing infrastructure that Amazon has been infrastructure.using for its own global network of Web sites. The top threemost popular cloud computing services from Amazoninclude: © Altoros Systems 6
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Services4.1. Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)Amazon S3 is a cloud storage service that allows users to ―store any amount of data and retrieveit from anywhere on the Web.‖ An unlimited number of objects ranging from 1 byte to 5 GB in sizecan be stored. To sort objects, S3 allows grouping them into buckets, which are very similar tolocal folders.Amazon S3 enables access restrictions for each of your objects, with a range of available ways toaccess objects, from HTTP requests to using the BitTorrent protocol. Amazon also ensures ahigh availability of S3 users’ data, guaranteeing 99.9 percent uptime, measured monthly. Theservice is available for a very affordable cost: $0.12–$0.15 per 1 GB, per month.Releasing companies from the need to worry about storage space, uptime, or servermaintenance costs and providing great economy, Amazon S3 has gained great popularity with abroad spectrum of clients. WordPress.com, Twitter, Slideshare.net, alongside with thousands ofothers, are among its users. Photo hosting service SmugMug claims to have saved over$1,000,000 on storage costs after just seven months of using Amazon S3.4.2. Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)Amazon EC2 is a Web service that enables its clients to run and host their applications in thecloud rather than on local machines. It means that customers use a Web interface to administer avirtual machine provided by Amazon.Companies of all sizes have appreciated the opportunity to use massive computer arrays bypurchasing access to them, without having to acquire any hardware. EC2 makes it possible tocreate high-demand Web applications with thousands of users more affordably than ever before.The New York Times relies on Amazon EC2, as well as the S3 storage service, to host itsTimesMachine, which provides access to the newspaper’spublic archives. IBM uses Amazon EC2 to provide pay-as-you-go access to its database and content managementsoftware, such as IBM DB2 and Lotus. IBM uses Amazon EC2 to provide pay-EC2 offers a wide range of virtual machines so that it ispossible to choose a configuration best suited for any as-you-go accessspecific application. This, as well as the fact that the to its database andnumber and types of virtual machines can be changed at contentany moment, helps Amazon EC2 achieve maximum managementscalability. Each client can buy just the resources s/heneeds, and when the client’s needs change, the number ofinstances in virtual use can change, accordingly. To ensureresistance to failure, instances can be placed in different geographic locations and time zones.The EC2 environment is based on Xen, an open source virtual machine monitor. Amazon EC2allows you to use and create your own Amazon Machine Images, or AMIs, which serve astemplates for your instances. While most AMIs are based on Linux, other operational systems,such as OpenSolaris and Windows Server, are also supported. © Altoros Systems 7
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web ServicesThe costs of using EC2 consist of an hourly charge per virtual machine and a data transfercharge. The ―pay-as-you-go‖ system and great scalability opportunities have contributed toAmazon’s naming its cloud ―elastic.‖4.3. Amazon SimpleDBAmazon SimpleDB is a service for storing, processing, and querying structure datasets, designedto be used in concert with Amazon EC2 and S3.Not a relational database itself, SimpleDB provides all the functionality of a database, such asreal-time lookup and querying of structured data, without the operational complexity. WithSimpleDB, there is no need for schemas; the service automatically indexes your data andprovides an easy-to-use API for storage and access. The data model is as simple as the service’sname suggests: collections of ―items‖ (small hash tables containing attributes-value pairs) areorganized into ―domains.‖SimpleDB is impressively fast, even when dealing with large amounts of data. As with S3 andEC2, it offers on-demand scaling: SimpleDB customers are charged only for actual data storageand transfer. Transferring data to other Amazon Web Services is free of charge.5. Amazon Web Services: Challenges and Mistakesto AvoidDue to their high reliability and cost-saving approach, Amazon Web Services are becomingincreasingly popular with companies on both sides of the Atlantic. However, while some thingsAmazon Web Services make easier to achieve, some things are quite complicated for a newbie.Here are some typical challenges that customers new to Amazon’s cloud computing service faceand typical mistakes they make.5.1. Scalability does not mean auto-scalingMistake: Some IT executives forget that scalability and adjusting the resources that you use arenever done automatically. With cloud computing, there still has to be a person who monitors anapplication’s performance and the resources used. For example, as soon as an application run inEC2 needs more memory, this person should see how much more memory is needed and add avirtual instance of appropriate size.Without human management or a custom automation application, there is still a risk of notproviding enough resources for an application or overpaying for odd resources.5.2. Disregarding safety of dataMistake: Some people consider backing up as an unnecessary formality. © Altoros Systems 8
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web ServicesIt is true, Amazon has a great reputation—no complaints of data loss, corruption, or unavailabilityhave ever been heard from its clients so far—but the point is, should anything happen to yourdata due to the performance of your application, bugs, or unforeseen customer efforts, the datawill be lost. Therefore, creating backups and undertaking security measures are still as relevantas ever before.5.3. Non-standard URLs and indexingChallenge: Operating large volumes of dynamic data, Amazon Web Services may create non-standard and dynamic URLs, which can be an obstacle for smooth search engine optimization.Solution: Whenever it is possible, rewriting a URL is a veryhelpful practice that is likely to solve the problem. URLsrewritten to look standard are both user-friendly and workbetter with search engines. Creating backups and undertakingAnother useful thing to do is create an RSS feed and a security measuressitemap, which will help index your pages faster. Amazon are still relevant aseven provides some ready-to-use code for an RSS feed, ever before.but creating a custom feed is probably what the most expertdevelopers will do.Additionally, consider joining the Amazon Associates program. It is an easy way to boost yoursearch engine ranking by getting connected to millions of Amazon’s own pages. Joining is free,but the price you pay is the necessity to put advertisements of Amazon’s products somewhere onyour Web site. This is, in fact, the driving principle of Amazon Associates—you make links toAmazon and get paid for every click, your growing search engine ranking being the positive sideeffect. For many companies, engaging in the program may not be an appropriate option, but forsome it can prove to be a winning decision.6. ConclusionWhile cloud computing has the potential to provide a range of benefits to businesses of any sizeand any industry, the cloud has its own hidden challenges. Those who want to make good use ofit should be ready to avoid them to benefit from this promising technology.Once implemented, cloud computing efforts may turn into a huge winner, saving considerableamounts of money, increasing the performance of your applications, and providing 24/7availability and scalability.7. About the AuthorsMichael Fedotov is Technology Evangelist at Altoros Systems, Inc. and has been working as afreelance journalist for a number of IT-related periodicals since 2003, covering next to all aspects © Altoros Systems 9
    • Cloud Computing: How to Solve Challenges and Avoid Typical Mistakes Using Amazon Web Servicesof IT, specifically software developments, in an abundance of articles. He has taken part inseveral scientific conferences and provided services for many more participants creating theirpresentations. He also has experience working as an interpreter and is currently studyingJapanese.Alex Khizhnyak is Chief Evangelist at Altoros Systems, Inc. and co-founder of the Belarus JavaUser Group. Since 1998, he has gained experience as an author, editor, media specialist, eventmanager, conference speaker, and blogger. So far, his education background combines IT,programming, economics, and journalism.Renat Khasanshyn is the founder and CEO of Altoros Systems, Inc. Mr. Khasanshyn speaksfrequently at a wide range of events, and recently was selected as a finalist for the 2007Emerging Executive of the Year award by the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council.Prior to founding Altoros Systems, Mr. Khasanshyn was VP of Engineering for Tampa-basedinsurance company, PriMed, Inc. Mr. Khasanshyn is a co-founder of the Belarus Java UserGroup and studied Engineering at Belarusian State Technical University.Altoros Systems is a global software delivery acceleration specialist that provides focusedproduct engineering to technology companies and start-ups. Founded in 2001 and headquarteredin Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale, California), Altoros has a sales office in Western Massachusetts,branch offices in Norway, Denmark and UK, and a software development center in EasternEurope (Minsk, Belarus). For more information, please visit www.altoros.com. © Altoros Systems 10