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AWS is always going to include a premium because they take care of the DevOps portion of your infrastructure. There are plenty of virtual hosting companies that cost significantly less than dedicated hardware, if you won't need all the bells and whistles.

because they take care of the DevOps portion of your infrastructure

Sorry, but that is mostly a lie.

Running a non-trivial app on EC2 is significantly more complex than doing the same on (rented) bare metal. Scaling to a massive size can be easier on EC2, but only after you paid a significant upfront cost in terms of dollars and development complexity.

Is your app prepared to deal with spontaneous instance hangs, (drastic) temporary instance slowdowns, sudden instance or network failures?

Did you know that ELBs can only scale up by a certain, sparsely documented amount per hour?

Or that you need a process to deal with "Zombie" instances that got stuck while being added/removed to ELBs (e.g. the health-check never succeeds).

Or that average uptime (between forced reboots) for EC2 instances is measured in months, for physical servers in years?

Or that Autoscaling Groups with Spot instances can run out of instances even if your bid amount is higher than the current price in all but one of the availability zones that it spans?

The list of counter-intuitive gotchas grows very long very quickly once you move an EC2 app to production.

This comment is pure gold! That's exactly what I wanted to explain here and you did it so well. Thanks!

> AWS is always going to include a premium because they take care of the DevOps portion of your infrastructure.

This is a surprise to me, given that I work at an AWS shop doing things other people would call "DevOps". AWS doesn't automate provisioning or provide a (worthwhile) deployment pipeline, andAWS doesn't react (except in crude and fairly stupid ways) when something goes wrong or out-of-band.

> AWS is always going to include a premium because they take care of the DevOps portion of your infrastructure.

No, they don't. They provide the tools, its still up to you to orchestrate it.

> AWS is always going to include a premium because they take care of the DevOps portion of your infrastructure.

But wouldn't that apply also to SoftLayer?

No, there is significantly more complexity, overhead, and R&D to providing cloud services in comparison to bare metal. SoftLayer is actually a very expensive bare metal server provider. There are several good options that cost less than 1/3rd the price. Realistically, at just modest scale (a few physical servers), you should see 1/6th the cost of Amazon.

The main benefits of Amazon is that it: a) allows you to scale down i.e. buy services in smaller portions than complete physical servers and b) APIs c) integrated features

You could probably pay for one devops position once your infrastructure gets to 10 physical servers.

Could you please list some competitors to SoftLayer? It's hard to get reliable opinions on cloud providers backed up with actual experience. I'd really appreciate it!

There's a plethora of different bare metal / dedicated server hosting providers, so recommending one is like recommending what type of car you should buy. The most important criteria generally involve: location, managed vs unmanaged, quality vs price, class of hardware, network uptime and hardware replacement SLA, number of servers, smaller or larger provider

The best resource to research different providers are the webhostingtalk.com forums. You can also contact me and I will do my best to advise you based on your desired criteria.

*Full Disclosure: I'm the founder/owner of a dedicated hosting company

My personal experience within the last 7 years: * Softlayer – the best option in terms of quality of service, quality of hardware, quality and size of the infrastructure (geo distribution, etc). * Rackspace – nice, until you grow enough to get relatively locked in and then your prices start to go up, provisioning time suffers and their service turns into shit. * Steadfast – provisioning times up to a week, basically a joke in today's world. * Some German/EU providers like Hetzner – dirt cheap option with desktop-like hardware, failing quickly. Service is nowhere near SL level.

I could go on and on about those, but other options were even more painful.

Re: Hetzner - they do offer some cheap "desktop" grade servers but they also offer lots of real servers: https://www.hetzner.de/ot/hosting/produktmatrix/rootserver-p... (e.g. 120GB RAM, Xeon chips, SAS drives, hardware raid etc.)

I've been running three 32GB servers (each with 3TB storage) with them for 2+ years now and the only outage I've experienced is the switch (5 port GBit) dying once. Hetzner tech replaced it in under an hour.

These three servers cost me €263/month (that's total, not each). Included in that monthly price is an additional IPv4 for each server, a private 5port Gbit switch, remote console access and 300GB of DC backup space.

There are probably better deals available now (i.e. more RAM at the same price) than the one I'm on since it's old and not offered on their site any more (/makes note to self to call Hetzner sales)

Hetzner and OVH both use cheap hardware, but IME it's not hard to use the same primitives you'd otherwise use in something like AWS to build in redundancy at a price point well below AWS.

I wouldn't want to do it, which is why I'd rather work for somebody who'd pay for AWS, but I think there's a thing in there somewhere for those who want to dig.

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