This is definitely a goal of Convox: to remove as much AWS complexity as possible.
Our approach matches this guide to a tee. We are using CloudFormation to set up a private app cluster, as well as to create and update (deploy) apps. We are also using ASGs.
The instance utilization point is spot on too. The fist thing convox does to make this easy is a single command to resize your cluster safely (no app downtime).
Coming next is monitoring if ECS and CloudWatch and Slack notifications if we detect over or under utilization.
I strongly believe that these AWS best practices can and should be available for everyone. For anyone starting from scratch or migrating apps off a platform or EC2 Classic onto "modern" AWS.
I'd like to use AWS more, but each time I tried to get into it I felt overwhelmed. I currently use PagodaBox a lot, which is great (most of the time) because it handles a lot of the complexity for me, but it can often be expensive. How does Convox compare to PagodaBox?
Convox has the same goal of a PaaS: to give you and your team an easy way to focus on your code and never worry about your infrastructure.
One big difference with Convox is that we accomplish this with single-tenant AWS things. You and your team's deployment target is an isolated VPC, ECS (EC2 container service), and ELB (load balancers).
If you're asking for a cost comparison, we're building Convox to be extremely cost competitive by unlocking AWS resource costs for everyone.
Its easiest to compare the cost of memory across platforms, though not always apples to apples...
The base Convox recommendation is 3 t2.smalls which is 6 GB of memory which costs about $100 / month. If your app can be sliced up into 512 MB processes, you can easily run 10 processes, which could be 2 to 5 medium traffic PHP apps on the cluster.
I'm finding PagodaBox pricing calculator a bit confusing but 6 512 MB processes, so 3 GB of memory, is $189.
Do you plan to eventually charge a monthly fee for using the command-line tool?
The most straightforward model, and where we are already making some money, is running a Convox as a managed service.
In this setup you and your team get Convox API keys. Convox installs, runs and updates everything for you in our accounts. You get a monthly bill that's your AWS resource costs plus a percentage to Convox for management.
We will be tweaking this model to sell packages so bills are really easy to understand.
Some other experiments we're doing...
We sell support packages and professional services for app setup, migration and custom feature development.
We have a per-seat model for productivity features. Private GitHub repos and Slack integrations are $19 / user / month. There are more closed SaaS tools like this coming.
Infra is trending to commodity prices industry wide.
We'll be selling SLAs, support, productivity tools on top of that infra.
You'll get a cutting edge private platform without hiring and managing your own devops team to build and maintain it.
Open source users will help grow the user base and make the platform better without us running a freemium platform.
The plan is to get the Convox API locked in while mastering advanced AWS like VPC, ECS, ELB, Kinesis and Lambda behind the scenes.
Long term, yes, and in tandem with when the other cloud providers leveling up. For example Google Cloud Logging (for continer logs on GCE) is still in beta.