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To the Clouds and Back


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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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To the Clouds and Back

  1. 1. To the Cloud(s) (and Back?) Kyle Cordes Jan 21, 2010 St. Louis Cloud Computing User Group Image Credit:
  2. 2. About Kyle Cordes • Blah, Blah, Blah. • Coming soon: consulting focus on cloudy technologies. • You know where to find me.
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. Agenda • Experiences as a cloud customer • Experiences as a cloud / SaaS provider • Raise many question, suggest a few answers
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. Obligatory Cloud Slide Image Credit:
  7. 7. Life as a Cloud Customer
  8. 8. 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.
  9. 9. 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
  10. 10. 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?
  11. 11. S3 Pricing
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. 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.
  14. 14. 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?
  15. 15. 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.
  16. 16. 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.
  17. 17. Another gratuitous cloud Image Credit:
  18. 18. 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.
  19. 19. 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
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. 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
  22. 22. 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!
  23. 23. 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.
  24. 24. 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.
  25. 25. 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.
  26. 26. And Another Image Credit:
  27. 27. Like as a Cloud / SaaS Provider
  28. 28. 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
  29. 29. The Pitch Focus on your core value (not on running IT systems) Outsource the IT systems (to someone whose whole business it is)
  30. 30.