Daily Archives: September 19, 2007

Is Amazon EC2 Right For SAAS?

I just ended up reading about how one company is leveraging Amazon EC2 for it’s hosted applications. That got me thinking on whether that’s the right thing. The proposition that there is no need for a serious admin is far too compelling when the salary for an admin who can manage the network, operating system, database and the middle tier is going to be quite high. But if you are already hiring an admin just to manage the rest of your infrastructure such as internal email, calendar, development environments etc, then may be that same person can do both?

Nevertheless, I want to talk about one interesting aspect of an enterprise SAAS application compared to a website. Say the SAAS is targeted to the US companies. In that case, the typical load on the system is going to be during the 8hr day. Keeping timezone into consideration, say it extends to 12hrs. The rest of the time, the load may be pretty much negligible.

But, just because the load is negligible, it’s won’t be possible to shutdown the instance. With Amazon’s EC2 stating

“Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change.”

would you tell your customers to wait for a few minutes before they can login into the system, should they choose to do some work from home later in the evening?

With the base computational cost of $0.10 an hr, it translates to $72 a month per instance. So, if you have two instances per customer, one for DB and the other for Middletier, that’s essentially a loss of $72 a month just to keep both instances running for that occasional load.

So, when someone is saving thousands of dollars to pay the admin, how does $72/month make a big difference? True. But it does translate to a direct cost to the company availing the SAAS. I don’t consider this necessarily a negative thing for Amazon EC2 or for SAAS vendors choosing EC2. I just thought of the obvious. Next, I need to do some more research on how Amazon’s S3 works with proprietary file formats like those of Oracle if someone is interested in running their database inside Amazon’s Web Service infrastructure. My understanding so far had been that S3 allows saving and retrieving files based on a key. If that’s the case, then it’s not really going to be possible to have proprietary files by databases. Does that limit having to keep the databases to the local disk of 160GB provided by EC2? I am not entirely sure.

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Filed under Amazon EC2, amazon web services, SAAS