Amazon EC2 Review

Makes it easy to either transfer data as an S3 bucket or increase the drive storage on the server

What is our primary use case?

We have a couple of primary use cases. We have an internal password server that we use for one of them. The other use case is file transfer. We have set apart an in-house SFTP process and it is all there. ETL enterprise trends and the data transformation process also run on one of the servers.

We have databases that run on one of the EC2 docs. We have a direct database that runs AWS Postgres. We don't separate that, but we do have a part of the business that runs on the server as well.

My company has a couple of servers on EC2 that we manage across defined regions. We have roughly 11 servers currently in operation for live production services and around 5 staging environments.

We have Windows and Linux servers. I think there are less Linux servers than Windows at present. I would say there are two to three Linux centers and the rest are Windows. That's what we use. Of course we have detailed information of what we do but I can't go into too much information because our company is public.

How has it helped my organization?

I wouldn't say it's improved our company, to be honest, because sometimes we do have issues with it. Because as much as the increase in data storage is good it is also a problem. That is because of the cost. But I would say it's good because it helps us. I would say AWS generally helps us. I'm going to talk a bit about other AWS applications, because it's kind of difficult to just dwell on EC2 and not talk about other applications since we do not just use EC2.

We also use Cloud HSM. Cloud HSM is easy to install. It has really helped us in regard to security. Now we can have our own key to encrypt our stuff. And having EC2 available is also very useful because sometimes with the configuration of Amazon stuff, if it's not done on Amazon Linux servers, it gets pretty difficult to wiggle your way around it. But with the Amazon Linux server, it's just on the fly because of their image. The fact that Amazon has their own image really helps to make your job easier and faster to configure and save.

What is most valuable?

The features that I have found most valuable are that we can increase the storage of EC2. This is very helpful because sometimes when it comes to data transformation in far transfer, it gets really big because of the number of clients we have. Then we have to find a way to sort out archive data, etc.

It really makes it easy to either transfer data as an S3 bucket or increase the drive storage on the server. That is really useful. Another thing I really like about the services is that you can install Trend Micro Security on it. Most of the AWS services have gone with Trend Micro Security, which you can get installed on it. It helps to protect the servers and gives you that additional level of security.

What needs improvement?

In terms of what could be improved, it depends on the server. I would say they are so much better these days with updates, especially when it comes to Linux servers and there are so many material updates. AWS is really on the ball with ensuring that security practices are there, etc.. Windows is just the same old Windows. The problem is not Amazon but Windows itself.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Amazon EC2 for five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is pretty stable regarding downtime. We probably get one downtime a month, for a few seconds up to a minute, but it rarely happens. The helpful thing about having EC2 instances is that you have CloudWatch. So it gives you logs of your downtime or the off time of the server. It gives you all that information if something is gone wrong with your server and you can fix it.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Amazon EC2 is highly scalable. But one thing I found that may be an issue is moving from one instance type to another. Because I found that you can't just switch instances. It seems you're limited to a certain category depending on the one you initially started with. But I'm not a hundred percent sure because I've only found that issue on one server and I know we've switched instance types before. Maybe just with that particular server I can't switch out of the categories of instances. I have to remain on the I's and I can't go to the M's or the C's or anything like that. I don't know if it's specific to that instance, though.

I don't know how many users are on it in total. I'd say less than 10. Most of them do data integration and team reporting, sometimes IT administration, and security, which is my team.

How are customer service and technical support?

I haven't used technical support for EC2. I've used it for other AWS solutions, but not for EC2.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I am familiar with Azure servers and I find them more expensive than EC2. I find them quite difficult to use and they are not as scalable as AWS. They are not even that robust. I don't like Azure that much. The setup is also confusing.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup is actually very straightforward because if you follow the guidance given on AWS you can get everything done pretty quickly without any problems. The only way it gets difficult is when you try to configure things your own way. Of course, sometimes you need to do things your own way because you have certain requirements for that particular server. Then it could get complex.

It depends, again, on the server. If it's a Windows server it is very easy, like on the fly. If it is Linux, you might find it difficult to install some AM-AWS services. So that configuration may be tough. But if you're using the basic, it's pretty easy. 

But then you need to know what each of the instances are. You need to know what you're using it for and how these instance sites apply to your organization. You need an understanding of the basic information about AWS before you can just configure it. It's not like every person can just come in and configure it. It's easy to configure, but then it may not be what you need it for.

It is project dependent. Sometimes we follow the basic strategies. Sometimes we have to consider it based on the particular project which we're working on at the time.

What about the implementation team?

We usually configure it ourselves in-house.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I think Amazon EC2 has fair pricing. I actually think the pricing is manageable. I have Free Tiers, as well. You can get on the Free Tier pricing and they just charge you for data storage.

What other advice do I have?

My advice to anyone considering this is that they need to evaluate if it's necessary to have EC2, or if it is cheaper to run something in-house. It's very important because you don't want to throw money at cloud service providers if you can do it yourself. But the good thing is that cloud service providers take care of all the infrastructure and everything so you don't have to worry about that. It's nice to also have someone else accountable for your every structure rather than employing so many people at your job to do the work. That's the only good side about it. It is easy to learn Azure and all those GCP products.

On a scale of one to ten I would give Amazon EC2 an 8. 

I definitely would not give it a 10. It's not the best of the best because we still have issues with downtime. We still have issues with the cost of storage, with all these different instance styles, and how much it costs. They cost an arm and a leg the higher you go. Sometimes performance is an issue because of the kind of incidents that you have. That is why it cannot be a nine or a 10. But because CloudWatch is embedded in it, it lets you know when your system fails by sending you an email. It also has Trend Micro included. I think you may have to pay for it, am not sure. So it has benefits if you use it with other AWS services.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Private Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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