Turning to the Cloud

cloud with arrowI have a reputation for calling things as I see them.  For example, by now, many of you know I’m firmly in the Android camp. There really is no technical comparison (like, who remembers 2012 anymore?).

I find it no surprise that one by one our clients are turning to virtualization and private cloud infrastructure.  As far as I am concerned, Amazon’s AWS platform is the definitive winner here.  Let me illustrate with a real life example.  Sorry, this may get a bit technical.

Imagine, if you will, a client that has been using the Spitfire Project Management System since 2007 with an 83GB database.  This client invested in SQL 2005 and used that server to support 3 business applications.   But SQL 2005 is past end-of-life (even SQL 2008 reaches end-of-life in 2014), so the client is faced with the need to renew its investment in SQL at a cost of 15-20K for hardware and software (could be more, but not much less since most of the cost is the software license).  Wow! Even though they are having a banner year, that is a big price tag for a 20-user shop.

Luckily, today there are options!

AWS is the state-of-the-art and industry leader in “cloud computing.”  Amazon has data centers worldwide, including at least 3 in the United States.  Storage is replicated across those data centers, giving you  “99.999999999% durability”.    Some AWS customers include Netflix, NASDAQ OMX  and, yes, Spitfire Management.

The concept is simple: AWS helps reduce or eliminate:

  • the cost of purchasing server hardware every 3-5 years,
  • the cost of hardware maintenance plans on that mission critical hardware,
  • licensing costs for server operating systems,
  • licensing costs for SQL data engine.

Instead, you pay monthly fees to Amazon.  The amount paid to Amazon over 3-4 years does approach the up-front costs for SQL and hardware.  But there are benefits besides spreading the cost over years:

  • You can generally add storage or processing capacity incrementally (which is usually very expensive when you own your own hardware devices).  This is often referred to as flexible capacity (scalability) and agility.   You can host your 20-user shop, or scale past 2000 with no problem, thanks to AWS load balancing and on-demand capacity.
  • By its nature, AWS is off-premises and has built-in redundancy.  Therefore, AWS will likely eliminate or reduce the need for some other components of your current disaster recovery plan and associated expenses.
  • Software license upgrade costs are eliminated, so you can stay more current.

Of course, nothing is trivial: IT know-how is required to deploy on AWS.  That is why Spitfire Management offers hosting (on AWS, of course) so that we can take care of all that for our clients.

In the end, our 2007 client chose to migrate to our hosting service, further reducing costs.  The migration was well planned and tested.  The client’s down time was less than 3 hours to make the switch.

As budget planning for IT infrastructure ramps up for this year, don’t hesitate to consider moving to the cloud via AWS.  Good business partners, like us here at Spitfire Management, can help.  After all, we’re all about project management and will do our best to help keep silly distractions like IT from getting in anyone’s way.

[By the way, please don’t confuse my praise for AWS as respect for all of Amazon’s business practices: I’m not so keen on Amazon’s eBooks, or recent book sales practices.]

This entry was posted in Cloud, Our Clients, Project Management and tagged by Stan York. Bookmark the permalink.

About Stan York

Stan York (VP of Development at Spitfire) has been developing software for decades. Which means he's old enough to remember when punched cards where the state of the art UI. Stan makes no secret about the fact he often prefers data to people, so it should come as no surprise that he is an expert in databases and SQL server. If asked, he might admit he is an MCP, because he knows this is important to some people, particularly at Microsoft. The postings on this site are his own and don’t necessarily represent Spitfire's positions, strategies or opinions.

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