Much has been made over the recent years—including on this blog!—about the benefits of cloud computing. However, with all of the past hype comes the present reality that, just like any other single technology or product, cloud computing is not a panacea meant to solve all of your organization’s problems.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the rash of “Dear John” letters companies have written to cloud providers. The most recent, entitled “Why We Moved Off the Cloud”, comes from Mixpanel Engineering just one short year after they moved wholesale from Rackspace to Amazon’s cloud. They highlight the cloud’s strengths, particularly in Amazon’s cloud, namely: low initial costs, fast deployment times, hourly billing, and cheap CPU performance. These strengths are significant… but they don’t tell the whole story.
Mixpanel writes that, ultimately, “highly variable performance” led to their decision to ditch the cloud. This is not a problem that was introduced with cloud computing, of course; any technology that shares physical resources across multiple clients runs the risk of those clients affecting each other’s performance. There are applications for which that’s just fine, where the risk of seeing slower web response times is mitigated by the fact that the site might only see a few hundred visitors a day. But clearly, the risk was not acceptable for Mixpanel, and they moved (back) to a dedicated hosting environment.
Unfortunately, Mixpanel didn’t ask us before they gave up on the cloud and moved back to dedicated hosting. (I kid, of course; Mixpanel doesn’t even know us!) If they had asked, I would have told them about what might be the perfect solution for their particular case: private clouds. Combining the strengths of cloud computing and dedicated hosting, a private cloud would have allowed them to deploy quickly, scale up or down easily (within the constraints of their dedicated physical hardware), and manage virtualized environments seamlessly. It also would have given them the assurance of using dedicated hardware, where they would not have had to worry about their neighbor creating an I/O or network storm and making their application 6x slower, as they experienced on Amazon.
The landscape makes it easy to conclude that there are only two options: dedicated hosting or cloud computing. The major cloud players have especially tried to fuel this false dichotomy, setting up the new, glamorous cloud computing against the old, dusty dedicated hosting. The question of where one should host and using which technologies is best answered by the adage we repeat on a regular basis: “Use the correct tool for the job.” Which is why Agathon Group specializes in helping organizations find the best tool for their job, be it shared cloud, private cloud, or old-school dedicated hosting. Contact us to start that discussion today!