Monday, November 19, 2007

Serverless Internet Companies

I'm not a Scoble fan boy by any means, but he certainly makes an interesting point in this post.

The question he doesn't ask however is "Why Amazon"?

There are a ton of other colo, server rental, virtual computing....etc etc providers out there - what is the magic sauce that Amazon EC2 and S3 hit on that is drawing all the flies to the honey?

Any thoughts?



  1. As one of the flies, yes.

    First, as far as I know there is almost nothing like S3. There is some startup that has copied S3 ( I forget the name) but I trust amazon over them. Second, with amazon EC2, you can do *everything* via software. You issue a command, and a server becomes available in the period it takes time to boot - a 3 or 4 minutes. And because amazon bills by the hour you can call up a bunch of servers for an hour and then shut them down when demand dies down. So amazon really has all the other hosting companies that ask you to commit a month at a time instead of an hour a time. And with amazon there is never a provisioning problem. You need a server, you got a server. No waiting to reach a salesman, or for new machines to be setup. You want it. You got it.


  2. Along the lines of what others have said, the key differentiators are

    1) providing very scalable infrastructure in terms of both disk storage and CPU. Need more? Just add more. Whenever you like. And pretty much expandable without limit.

    2) "metered" pricing. They price your usage *very* affordably - as in charging you in fractions of a penny for units of storage and CPU usage.
    No need to pay for any hardware; no need for long term payment commitments either.

    Together this adds up to a very compelling offering for site operators.
    I read a blog entry a while back from some guy whose new site got slammed by "the digg effect". He started up a whole bunch of EC2 instances to meet the load, then killed them a couple of days later when the load came down. Total cost was something like $100. When you think of how much it would have cost to do something like that before AWS, you really start to appreciate what amazon has built.

    David Rosenstrauch

  3. why amazon?

    - The ec2 framework is great specifically for processes that do not require any sort of dns'ing or addressing of some sort.
    - so if you have a cluster of machines that just process data, you can startup an ec2 image, to do the processing. or if you need to serve static data, throw up another ec2 image.
    - also i dont think anything else out there exists with an easy to use API at such a low cost. ($0.10 for small server, .40 for medium, .80 cent for big)
    - typically a setup from a company like rackspace for something like this would require a 6 month or 1 year contract, $x cost (typically $150 - $300/server) and 3 - 5 days setup time.


  4. there was yet another article discussing the benefits here