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To the Clouds and Back
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To the Clouds and Back



Kyle's experiences as a "cloud" customer and SaaS provider lead to a set of open questions (and a handful of suggested answers) about the tradeoffs therein.

Kyle's experiences as a "cloud" customer and SaaS provider lead to a set of open questions (and a handful of suggested answers) about the tradeoffs therein.



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  • Look, a cloud background
  • Trying to stay away from pedantry and introduction.
  • talk about experiences and open questions.
  • You can make spreadsheets all day; the big unknown always ends up sysadmin labor.
  • ➞

To the Clouds and Back To the Clouds and Back Presentation Transcript

  • To the Cloud(s) (and Back?) Kyle Cordes Jan 21, 2010 St. Louis Cloud Computing User Group Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vishvarupa/
  • About Kyle Cordes • Blah, Blah, Blah. • Coming soon: consulting focus on cloudy technologies. • You know where to find me.
  • Non-Agenda • Yet another cloud intro • Comparison of what N people mean by “cloud” • “walkthrough of Amazon Web Services from a developer perspective” • Code or Design for parallelism View slide
  • Agenda • Experiences as a cloud customer • Experiences as a cloud / SaaS provider • Raise many question, suggest a few answers View slide
  • Project X • SaaS firm I co-founded in 2004, sold 2009 • SaaS / Cloud provider • Mostly ran on owned colo hardware • Used some S3 and EC2 • Cloud customer • There could be a good business talk about this someday; not today.
  • Obligatory Cloud Slide Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saturnism/
  • Life as a Cloud Customer
  • Cloud Storage • Storage is the simplest thing to outsource to a “cloud”, mature, least to go wrong • My Story: • Started with homegrown storage • Moved to S3 • Moved back. http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/
  • Why Cloud Storage • Simpler than running your own robust internet-accessible file servers • Very low startup cost • Removes a bunch of bandwidth from the rest of your system • Very little downtime
  • Why Not Cloud Storage? • No so cheap, as the bytes add up • Consider incremental vs baseline sysadmin costs • Downtime is more obvious • What about backups? • Can you ever trust them?
  • S3 Pricing
  • Is S3 cheap or expensive? • Cheap, compared to: • Expensive, compared to: • Enterprisey sysadmin • Scrappy startup costs • Sysadminning other • Enterprisey storage servers anyway hardware costssdc • Hardware scaled for • Borrowing money to mostly-archival buy hardware storage
  • Cloud Storage Backups? • Obvious answer: Provider’s Problem • What if all your (customers’) files disappeared one day? • How many clicks to do this? 5-6? • Your own backups? Now you have sysadmin and hardware after all.
  • Backups are the Provider’s Problem • What if the data is lost? • Will your customer / boss / etc. ask why you didn’t just keep a copy on drives or tapes? • Do you have a survivable answer?
  • Kyle’s Judgement Store low-to-medium importance content on S3 or similar service, and take the risk of how well they keep the data. It’s a good trade off. ... but not by much. Might go the other way, depending on the details.
  • But Wait! Even if you don’t use a public cloud storage, design your system to isolate bulk data storage. Do something in-house which resembles using an outside cloud.
  • Another gratuitous cloud Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/
  • Cloud Servers • Some experience with Amazon EC2 • and a few VPS providers • To me a “cloud” server is not just any rented server/VPS; it is something that can be brought up and down quickly, automatically, hourly billing.
  • Why Cloud Servers? • No up front cost • No need to ever babysit hardware • Rapid scaling up or down • Easy to hand over to someone else • Keeps you honest in your automation, management, and architecture
  • Running Cloud Servers • Have you set up automated deployment? • Have you set up automated management? • Do you hate manual software installation? • You will! • Puppet, Chef, a zillion others
  • My Story • Before EC2: • Knew we needed to automate deployment and management • Never got around to doing it end-to-end • After EC2: • Really did it, with apt-get, Puppet, etc. • Huge benefit for all servers
  • Why Not Rented / Cloud Server? • Nailed-up 24x7x365 x N, can get pricey • Likely cheaper in year 1 • Probably more expensive by year 3 • There is no magic, the provider must charge you more than the underlying cost. • But Spot Instances are a little bit magic!
  • Kyle’s Judgement Next time around, I’d most likely use EC2 or similar for the first few years of any new venture or project. Buy hardware once you have a proven long term need - not based on hope, hunch, or projections.
  • But Wait! (II) Even if you don’t use a public cloud provider of CPUs, design your system as if you did. Use Puppet or whatever. Repave machines with nary a thought. Use an in-house cloud. Design for parallelism.
  • Farther Up the Stack Solder Wires ➞ buy servers etc. Physical servers / nets ➞ IaaS IaaS ➞ PaaS PaaS ➞ SaaS SaaS ➞ BPO Over time, expect to move up the stack, and expect to specialize in fewer layers.
  • And Another Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/emdot/
  • Like as a Cloud / SaaS Provider
  • The Pitch • No up front cost • Running the system is The Vendor’s problem • Trivially scale • Hire less sysadmins • Pay only for actual use • vendor will instead • user count • Specialization is a key • bytes driver of economic growth. • whatever
  • The Pitch Focus on your core value (not on running IT systems) Outsource the IT systems (to someone whose whole business it is)
  • kylecordes.com http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetruthabout/