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I read this, and I think: wow, that's extraordinarily expensive. The stack he designs is $20/mo for 1,000 user sessions/day.

Back in the days of cPanel/LAMP shared hosting, you'd have similar capability for $5/mo.




With a basic DO droplet, you can still do that for $5/month, and hey, if it takes off your app won't depend on a bunch of expensive proprietary software. Also I'm guessing that if cost is a concern, denial of service is preferable to blowing the bank under unanticipated high loads. Maybe I need to drink more AWS/GCP kool-aid though and see the light.


Recently I've been fascinated at gap between server providers these days. It seems each provider is either:

- Enterprise public cloud, AWS/GCP/Azure, expensive but scalable and enterprise friendly

- Developer public cloud, Linode/DO, cheap and easy to use

Although I say that AWS/GCP/etc are expensive, they obviously have negotiable prices for large customers. I doubt the smaller providers do that.

But it makes me wonder why people use AWS/GCP when the other providers are so much cheaper. How do Linode/DO offer such good prices? Would they kick me off if I actually maximized the server capacity they offer, like a shared cPanel host would do, back in the day?


Hetzner.com is half the price of Linode/Digital Ocean.


The cheapest AWS EC2 reserved instance is about the same $/month as the cheapest DO instance, both can be used for a small website. You’ll pay more for on-demand pricing.


The cheapest DO instance lets you pin the CPU to 100% for your whole usage cycle. The cheapest EC2 reserved instance will throttle you if you attempt to do so. So if your "small website" is actually a web app of any complexity, the DO instance is almost always a better choice.

(If, on the other hand, the "small website" is just a website, why not just put it in an S3 bucket and put Cloudflare in front? Even cheaper!)


https://aws.amazon.com/lightsail/pricing/ is a good middle ground. Under the covers it's T2 + EBS + a nice bandwidth allowance, but wrapped in a simplified UI and nice flat pricing.


I recently had to spin up an instance of an app I work on aws, and having never really used aws outside some light s3 usage, lightsail is a god send. At work, everything we have is hosted on our own (on prem ) servers, that are either fire walled off or restricted to company login, hence why I had to spin something up on aws for demos or whatever they want to do with it. And, for my personal/hobby stuff, I just have a swarm cluster setup on DO. And as soon as I went to create an EC2 instance (I think that’s what I was looking for), I realized I had no idea what was going on. Since this was a quick little thing that was going to get almost no real usage, I didn’t want to spend several hours figuring the options and what kind of instance I needed. I just wanted to go back to good ol’ DO where I could have a new droplet spun up in like three clicks.

And then I found lightsail, when I was clicking through the million different services, and I was like holy shit, this is familiar, and in like three clicks later, I had a server running! Obviously, it doesn’t have all the features DO offers (because I imagine those can be done with other AWS services), but I didn’t need them/use them (aside from DO’s DNS). Really, my only gripe I’ve had with it so far is the OS offerings. All my servers (personal & work) are CentOS, so I was slightly annoyed when I found out I could get a CentOS server on lightsail, so I just settled with Ubuntu because that’s fine and I’m familiar enough with it.

So, if you need something hosted on AWS for whatever reason, and are not familiar with it at all, but are with something like DO/Linode, lightsail is something to look into. I think the pricing was fairly comparable to DO, maybe a little more expensive, but I’m not paying for it so I didn’t really look.

Word on the street is we’re gonna start moving a lot of our infra to AWS at work though, so I guess I should probably at least figure out how the hell EC2 works...


The Amazon Lightsail proves there is a huge market for DO and Linode. And DO / Linode aren't exactly cheap, there are lots of players in VPS market that are half the price or more.

I think what is missing is a middle ground approach that scale both ways. Or a Heroku that is built on top of DO / Linode.


I wouldn't consider VPS providers part of "the cloud". You simply rent a (virtual) server. With AWS and the like, you pay for their automation of services. You don't need to manually deploy load balancing, CDNs, DDoS mitigation, security hardening, and the like. The big pitch is that you're paying a bit more in order to phase out your IT team.


> The big pitch is that you're paying a bit more in order to phase out your IT team.

Really? I have to say I don't understand it. I remember the "NoOps" movement from a few years ago and I just find the whole concept around it to be almost hilarious; kind of like Salesforce's old "No Software" logo (which is nowhere to be found in their newer marketing).

As I see it, as long as your organization has people using IT in any capacity at all, you will need someone in charge of IT Operations. Whatever you may want to call it: DevOps, or SRE, or PE, or even if you just decide it's something that each of your regular devs is going to be doing, it's a function that needs to be done.

Someone needs to be able to set up the systems, monitor them, scale them, secure them, and troubleshoot issues. It doesn't matter how well-engineered and maintained and automated the components you rely on are, they will break in various compound fractures and you will need to deal with the downtime and potential corruption to your composite system.

I'll eat my hat if you can point me towards a single non-trivial software service that has been running continuously without any "IT".


As I see it, as long as your organization has people using IT in any capacity at all, you will need someone in charge of IT Operations. Whatever you may want to call it: DevOps, or SRE, or PE, or even if you just decide it's something that each of your regular devs is going to be doing, it's a function that needs to be done.

That's true, but I don't need to worry about the server that my database, load balancer, queuing system, RedisCache, storage, etc. is running on. I only have to worry about my applications and the actual database. If I need to provision more hardware, it's a click of a button (well actually updating my CloudFormation template).

There is an entire level of both hardware and operating system maintenance that I don't have to worry about.


>There is an entire level of both hardware and operating system maintenance that I don't have to worry about.

Right. So you traded [relatively] inexpensive OS and infrastructure maintainers for [relatively] expensive application and tier maintainers.


My interpretation of devops/noops is that it marks the lack of major distinction in hiring because both ops and development are seen as part of the same process, as opposed to simply pretending you don’t have infrastructure.

This is certainly part of the reasoning for things like terraform, cloudformation, even chef/puppet/ansible—people want a single process for development of reviewing and executing code.


>the "NoOps" movement

I always pronounced that as "nnnn..oops"


With DO and Linode adding things like block storage volumes, object storage, and load balancing, they're becoming more than just simple VPS providers.

They definitely don't offer anywhere near as many services as Google, MS, Amazon, or even Alibaba's cloud offerings. But they're becoming pretty decent 'cloud lite' providers who cover what's needed for plenty of folks and companies.


And - at least DO - they've been offering these things for quite a while now, too


>I wouldn't consider VPS providers part of "the cloud". You simply rent a (virtual) server. With AWS and the like, you pay for their automation of services.

Might want to go recheck the API documentation for providers like DO et al


fwiw ... DO, Vultr, and Hetzner have never kicked me off - regardless of how heavily I hit the systems


Come to father Bezos, he will enlighten you


Hi malchow and anothergoogler,

Yup. That would work, but it takes out a couple of things from the original requirements I had: 1. scalability It should be able to stretch especially for bursty traffic situation. 2. I should not have to pay if the app or service is not being used.


Yeah $5 for a single point of failure in one data center of possibly questionable quality. Versus 20 a month for an app spread across availability zones for the all-in price, resilient to failure on single machines, etc.

A single downtime event on a single host will likely have costs that can never be actuarially recovered from, in this head to head. Pay the $15 extra bucks.


You say that, but IME it takes lots of configuration effort and lots more AWS services in order to really get the kind of resiliency that, say, Amazon.com enjoys. And core services in core regions in AWS do go down. It doesn't not happen.

I think AWS would do well to expand massively its free tier. Talented startups in my world are starting to look askance at AWS fees.


Respectfully, I disagree. If you use the services listed in the article, you're not really talking about that many more components than you're going to run on your own box. You've got a DB (dynamodb), an app server (lambda), and an http load balancer / content server (s3 / api gateway). And then you have to set up DNS anywhere but Route 53, why not. I don't see how this is dramatically a larger configuration haul compared to:

1. Nginx config & tuning 2. Postgres / MySQL config & tuning 3. App server config & tuning

It is dramatically different config & tuning, so we might exist in a time where people overvalue familiarity & it colors their impressions of effort, but I don't think it's a long-term viable crutch to lean on either.

As to core services going down, I read you loud & clear, it does happen. From my experience, it happens way less often than outages on a single box though, or even a collection of boxes you're managing. And I don't know if there has been a time where there were simultaneous region failures in AWS -- and with dynamo global tables its easier than ever to get a multi-region app launched.

Pricing is the kicker for sure though. Your bill line is going to be higher. You're also priced in though which from a biz standpoint is huge. It's very difficult to budget failure, it's probably a hidden component in your engineering team costs. For startups this can be mitigated through AWS' accelerator-linked programs though, otherwise, I'd encourage any CTO / CEO / founder team to really think about how cost is not measured in the data center bill, but in that cost, plus engineer cost, plus customer retention costs, plus opportunity cost.


Also, couldn't you just set a limit in your budget in AWS. That and alarms on events etc?




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