Amazon AWS (AWS) outsells its nine closest competitors combined.
Since AWS has a great reputation, why would someone want to look at the alternatives?
I feel that AWS is great for organizations that can handle a Do It Yourself environment. If you are technical and only need IT infrastructure, they’re an excellent service provider. But if you need more than just infrastructure we encourage you to explore all the options. Here are other reasons to examine alternatives to AWS:
You can outsource infrastructure to AWS but not management.
Other cloud providers tend to combine infrastructure services with a variety of management options. These options go from basic monitoring through management of the OS and applications. To get management on AWS, you’d need to engage an AWS partner but it’s still a 3rd party and not AWS themselves.
It’s a “do it yourself” model in almost every sense.
There’s a helpful user interface to spin up services but it can be a bit confusing. To add storage, load balancing and databases takes some know how and study. Since it’s self managed, you’ll need to know how to configure every aspect of the environment yourself.
It’s not cheaper than other clouds
Stepping back for a moment, cloud isn’t cheaper than dedicated hosting. In the cloud, purchasing compute in smaller increments allows you to scale with less upfront expense. But if you need 4 processors and 64GB of RAM, chances are a dedicated instance will cost about the same. Keep in mind this simplistic formula I use for cloud & hosting services:
Infrastructure + Licensing + Support + Margin = Cloud Cost
If your application requires a full server, that’s one server not usable by others. You’ll pay for all its computing power and thus it’s a “dedicated server” even though it’s in the cloud.
I digress, Amazon’s hourly cost is competitive but you can get better rates elsewhere.
There’s a learning curve
If you are a systems administrator, getting into amazon and getting started is a joy. IT managers that aren’t hands on may find the AWS interface a bit overwhelming.
It’s not automatic in its elasticity
Many think that cloud computing instances can shrink and grow based on demand. While AWS instances are plentiful, the expansion and contraction of instances aren’t automated. The design and build of that elasticity is your responsibility. Netflix has a library of amazing open sourced projects that do these elastic maneuvers within AWS.
It’s not invincible
While their scale is amazing, they still have the occasional outage like other providers. AWS is so large and established that it’s hard to imagine an outage with them but it does happen albeit rarely.
Where to Go from here
There are many choices out there. It’s not always a question of a “good” or “bad” provider but more about fit. There are ways to deploy cloud that suit your specific application. Client/Server applications tend to use resources in a different way than traditional web applications. It just takes awhile to find what platform has synergies with your app. If you need a sounding board for your ideas you can always sign up for a free consultation. If you want to learn more about how I feel about tackling the cloud alone, check out this presentation.
A final note
We appreciate what AWS has done for cloud in bringing IaaS and other outsourced platforms mainstream. They are confident enough in their platform to offer a free year of service to anyone who signs up.