Rackspace Cloud Review
Why we picked Amazon AWS over Rackspace and dedicated hosting


Last saturday we switched Wedoist from Rackspace's Cloud to Amazon AWS. In this post I will present why we have done this and why we picked Amazon AWS instead of Rackspace's Cloud or dedicated hosting.

Why not Rackspace's Cloud?

We initially used Rackspace because we thought they had lots of experience and expertise in hosting. Now we are not so sure and we don't have a huge trust in their systems or their network.

Our problem was that a lot of users had reported performance issues. Wedoist is used in about 50 countries and each time we debugged these issues they were from users that came from "remote countries" such as Brazil, Hong Kong or Taiwan. Having developed web-applications for a long time we were sure it was a network issue and even I could reproduce this issue in Chile. This was our main reason for moving to Amazon AWS: Rackspace's network does not seem to work that well in "remote areas" of the world.

The second reason is that Amazon AWS seems to be a superior product that offers more solutions such as:

Amazon AWS also seems to be in rapid development, for example, Amazon DynamoDB was released last week (and it seems to be an awesome database solution!)

Why not dedicated hosting?

You will get a lot more hardware by going for dedicated hosting (either buying or leasing servers). For example, if you read pinboard's article on dedicated hosting, A Short Rant About Hosting, you will find prices that are much cheaper than Amazon's.

Here are our reasons why we didn't go the dedicated hosting route:

Cost isn't everything:
For us cost isn't the only thing we care about. Our focus is on building software and serving our users in best ways possible. Setting things up ourselfs would save money, but would require a lot more work, be more limited and possible produce more errors.

We don't have resources to use multiple data centers:
Some things would not be possible at all, because setting it up would be very expensive - - an example is minute snapshots of our databases that are stored in 3 different data centers and can be restored with a few clicks. Implementing backup strategies is complex, especially if you have a lot of data, and Amazon AWS saves us a lot of headaches in this area.

We can easily scale:
With Amazon AWS scaling up or down is easy: we can add servers, we can upgrade to bigger machines, we can downgrade, we can script everything so extra machines are added in the morning and shutdown in the afternoon. All this with a few clicks or a few scripts and in matter of minutes.

Our focus isn't on managing servers:
The bottom line is that we can focus on building great software. Using Amazon AWS is more costly than dedicated hosting, but our products aren't free, so paying for premium hosting isn't a huge deal.

Amazon AWS seems to be a marketleader
Amazon AWS has an impressive customer base that includes Dropbox, Netflix or Yelp (just to name a few). We feel in good company by being there as well.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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8 Comments

it_user1068VendorLEADERBOARD

Although cost is an important factor when it comes to businesses, the resulting outcome is what one should be more concerned about. This is because any purchases made by a business should always be considered a form of investment.

25 August 13
it_user4401VendorPOPULAR

Compared with Amazon's EC2, Rackspace Cloud has one specific advantage: it offers cheaper low-end server instances that may be all the developer needs for certain tasks. For certain tasks that are not CPU or memory-bound but instead network bound, the low-end Rackspace instances may be sufficient and cost effective. One disadvantage of Rackspace Cloud is the lack of reliability of the servers.

03 November 13
HenryReal UserTOP REVIEWERTOP 5

Interesting fight. Looks like Rackspace still an underdog.

Let's see.....

03 November 13
it_user4134Consultant

OK, if you are a member of the public, or a small company and don't have the skills, or perhaps the time, go for Amazon and pay for it.

Otherwise, if you are a medium to large company, alternatives are better.

I am not convinced that the costs of Amazon reflect real service benefits. I am guessing here as it is probably Top Secret but I expect they are still using expensive proprietal software from third parties and high-cost, high-energy branded servers .

Such software and hardware would keep prices high. There may be a future for Amazon in this arena for rich Western companies, blue chip and non-secret governmental.

I would compare Amazon to Apple-always overcharging and loosing volume to competitors.

Better not by Amazon shares in the long term....

04 November 13
it_user83025Vendor

Amazon is primarily in the B2C business (selling books, movies, electronics, garden hoses, etc.) and the only reason they have infrastructure is to support their mainline B2C business. With their cloud business they are merely selling you excess capacity. Thus AWS is a secondary business to them -- they have other things to do. (Same can be said of Google and others.) For this reason they approach customer service as a failure of automation. They don't really want to be in the customer service business because for them, a good day is when no human being has to talk to another human being. They also have a certain opacity to their business; proprietary systems and proprietary thinking underlie their whole business; they are not an Open Source company. OpenStack is open source, which means the pace of innovation is set by the community, not by Amazon (a single company; a "single point of failure" when it comes to innovation). Yes Amazon is aggressive in pursuing its own R&D. They may even let you use it when they're done. The point is, as the community's needs shift, OpenStack will shift. You cannot count on proprietary R&D to do that.

One more thing to think about: Does your business currently compete, in any way whatsoever, with Amazon? Is in conceivable that some day you MIGHT compete with Amazon? In the future, is Amazon more likely to partner with you or compete with you? Then ask yourself: Do you really want your infrastructure in the hands of a competitor? Do you want Amazon to know more about your business than it already knows? Do you want Amazon to know your traffic patterns? The scope of your infrastructure requirements? Etc. Barnes & Noble would not put its IT needs in Amazons hands for obvious reasons. Maybe someday your business will be in a similar position and you'll question whether Amazon should be your primary IT provider. Something to think about now, not 5 years from now.

26 January 14
it_user90366Consultant

Just curious how this is panning out. Apparently a lot of companies are having trouble maximizing AWS due to complexity, re: http://kevinljackson.blogspot.com/2013/03/cloudcheckr-amazon-complexity.html?goback=.gde_5122002_member_5835122779006976003 However, that's also because of the idea that infrastructure should be managed by an in-house team...

Disclaimer: The company I work for is partners with several vendors

14 February 14
HenryReal UserTOP REVIEWERTOP 5

I wish I could use both AWS & Rackspace:>)

Good luck

Henry

16 February 14
it_user73320Real User

All the providers today have some feature differentiation among them each offering unique advantages, choosing a provider or more than one provider in a multi cloud strategy is a strategic decision for todays enterprises, considering location, cost and features that best fits for each enterprise's scale and growth.

16 February 14
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