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Oh, I know what you're talking about. We too had some instances (actually, a lot of those) that would run for a year with no issues. The problems started around the time you tried to push EC2 instances beyond an "idle, handling some requests just to keep from falling asleep" state. Pushing IO (even with provisioned IOPS) caused random IO stalls, pushing CPU caused REALLY uneven performance, etc.

And the only solution provided by EC2 support was always to buy more instances to keep them cold and happy. The problems with that approach (just to name a few): the cost (for a young startup burning money on idle infrastructure like that is not very wise IMO) and the fact, that the time to design, develop and deploy scale-out approach for each of your backend services is the time you could have spent trying to build your product (again, startup-specific; you'll have to think about across-the-board 100% scalability at some point).

First: I work in Startup BD at AWS (disclosure), but have been a multi-time founder as well. I was under the impression that an AWS architect will sit with you to optimize your infrastructure (Business Support). Did that not happen / or was it not useful? Happy to help in any way I can.

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