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Do you really need two full time devops/whatever to manage the open source equivalents to the AWS services?

No, you need many more than that. AWS's offerings are complex systems, each backed by multiple large teams of developers and operations people. And that's not just because they have tons of customers.

You want to run a partitioned, replicated data store with five nines of reliability? Good luck doing even just that with two people. Throw in metrics (CloudWatch), a queuing system (SQS), monitoring/failover with on-demand provisioning (EC2 + auto scaling groups), and you're talking a lot more than just two devops people... well, unless you want them both on-call 24/7/365, and you want them to burn out in a matter of weeks.

AWS isn't perfect by any means, and you can certainly argue that it can be overpriced... but maybe you pick and choose, and use AWS for the things you don't have expertise in or time for, and roll your own for the rest. The nice thing is that AWS lets you offload all that stuff when you're small and don't want to or can't retain that kind of expertise in-house, and then you can focus on actually building your awesome product that runs on AWS's plumbing. And when you have more time and people later, you can look into doing things differently to save money, piece by piece, when it makes sense to do so.

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