Overall Satisfaction with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
I utilize Amazon EC2 as a tool to rapidly and cost effectively deploy and upgrade network infrastructure for a wide range of businesses, and it has become not only an essential tool, but an entire business model within itself. In a nutshell, EC2 is a virtual server system, not unlike VMWare, that runs on hardware and bandwidth operated by Amazon Web Services, which allows me to configure and deploy a wide range of servers with a few clicks of a mouse for pennies of what it would cost to run a server in house. I am utilizing it for corporate infrastructure (Intranet), development environments, and full production environments, deploying everything from Active Directory, to Outlook Server, to full LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP) and Windows IIS Web Servers for running internal Intranet services such as CRM, ERP, and Sales software suites to full external access web servers powering web sites, E-Commerce Platforms, and App servers. EC2 allows me to do anything I could do with a conventional hardware cost, at a fraction of the hardware, infrastructure, or IT management cost of a physical server.
- Deploys Virtual Servers, which are very easily configurable and deployable, regardless of experience.
- Saves cost by reducing physical hardware costs, and IT management costs.
- Allows very fast deployment of servers, within minutes instead of hours.
- Offers a wide variety of additional services, including S3 storage, RDS Database services, & more, at one easy web portal with one bill.
- Remote desktops are one of the few areas where EC2 doesn't work well due to the hardware requirements, though AWS has recently released a remote desktop service that comes out to being more cost effective than an internal Citrix deployment.
- Hardware customization is also rather hard to deal with, as few options are available when choosing a configuration, which can cause problems in heavily customized OS systems, and development scenarios.
- EC2 on its own is flawed in the way it is deployed, having the customer chose a geographic "zone" where the services are hosted, which sort of kills one of the main reasons for using the cloud, which is being geographically diverse.
- EC2 supposedly gives you the ability to "choose" your geographical location, "if it is not under heavy use". This is one problem I have run into lately, as many of my customers are in California, and are being required to use an Oregon zone due to high use if they want to avoid additional charges. Think of zones in a real estate sense, location is cost. This can become an issue when competition is high, because users hate to wait for a site to load. If you are in CA, serving CA customers through an Oregon zone, your service will be slower than competition physically hosted in California.
- Since deployment and operational upkeep costs are a critical sales point for my customers, AWS has given me the perfect environment to work with.
- EC2 is great for performing upgrades. I am able to create an entirely new system, then just quickly move the data over with a few clicks, like moving a hard drive. If something goes wrong with the upgrade then I can roll back to my original system just as quickly. I have averted quite a few disasters due to hardware specifications not working properly, which has given me many stress free upgrades, as opposed to what could of happened.
- Growth capability is probably the one thing AWS does better than anyone else, which means that pre-launch calculations are not even something I have to consider, let alone worry about. Having a site crash due to success and popularity is one of the worst things that can happen to someone, and I use to put more time and energy into calculating what "might" happen than I would into designing the site itself. With EC2, I can launch my site with a free micro-instance and can rest easily knowing that regardless of how many customers like and WANT to use my site. Automated scaling is a thing of beauty.
When it comes to AWS EC2, the technical aspects are about equal to many of the other cloud services, but where AWS EC2 shines at is its management, and growth capabilities. You can start your web based business using AWS for literally zero start-up costs: you use the same Amazon account you use to order office supplies and your laptops, click a button, and start renting servers that only cost what you ACTUALLY use, which is really revolutionary for the data industry.
EC2 is a great service for anyone that wants to quickly and cost effectively deploy and operate web servers, as anyone with any level of experience can launch a machine within minutes, having almost zero prior experience in very little time. In other words, if you are a startup with limited funds and staff that just needs to deploy an environment very rapidly, while saving as much money and time as possible, then no better solution is available, the same can also be said for an existing company with the same goals. Yet, if your business is in a competitive field, where page load times, site uptime, and stability are critical, then other options do exist, and those options are slowly creeping down to the same area as AWS. Take advantage of the one year AWS trial, before you start paying for services.