How has it helped my organization?
We were not a "born in the cloud" company. Our email server solution was first deployed as on-premise, then as a hosted service on bare metal in a data center and then has been ported to AWS.
The main reason to move from hosted bare metal to AWS was the flexibility in adding storage on demand. However, as we worked with Amazon we realized that it could help improve the scalability and availability of our SaaS offering with the other Amazon services.
Using AWS services has allowed us to have a more atomized architecture, which is allowing us to build scale into each service.
What is most valuable?
We have deployed a variety of services from AWS. Most commonly EC2, EBS, S3, Lambda, Elastic Search, RDS and NFS Gateway.
The cloud storage based on S3 is one the most valuable services we have deployed since it allows us infinite scale in storage and extremely high durability.
What needs improvement?
AWS is innovating at a very fast pace. They are very customer focused. They keep up and exceed customer expectations.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
There was some new learning in terms of IOPS on the EBS storage. The concept of burstable IOPS was new and we did have a few outages when we ran out of IOPS. After moving to provisioned IOPs for the EBS we have not faced any issue.
Once the IOPs are used up, it takes a long time for the burst balance to be filled up. The only option is to move the data to another disk. This causes downtime. It would be better if we could continue to use at the baseline IOPs.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We did not have scalability issues.
How are customer service and technical support?
Technical support is responsive, accurate and helpful. Right in line with their philosophy of customer obsession.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We have hosted our SaaS offerings on various data centers in India and the USA prior to moving all the workload on to AWS.
How was the initial setup?
The setup itself was not complex. However, it was an involved exercise moving the email data of all our customers from the data centers to AWS without much downtime.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
If you want to move all production loads to AWS, the fastest way forward is lift and shift (which is what we did). However, this may prove to be more expensive than bare metal until the time the solution is updated to use the different AWS services. For example, when we shifted the load to AWS we paid a high cost as the mail stores were hosted on EBS. The storage cost drastically reduced after moving to S3.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We did look at Microsoft Azure, but found that AWS had far more flexibility, options and ease.
What other advice do I have?
There can be a tendency to get excited by all the options available. We advise to start small and focus on the services which solve your core problems.
In fact this is the very strength of the AWS cloud platform; easy and rapid experimentation, start small and scale on demand. The flexibility and malleability of the cloud platform has been an all new experience for us.