Two problems here:
First off 10,000 servers almost certainly cost less than 100. Least of all because you can buy direct from the OEM rather than through a reseller (who profits), and also because the buyer has more leverage for negotiations (that's a lot of money, and they COULD go elsewhere).
Second problem: The servers don't need to be identical, and in fact Amazon's EC2 instances aren't identical (they just pretend to be). If you spin up several EC2 instances over a few weeks then look at e.g. the CPU info, you'll see that they vary quite a lot but are similar-ish (this has caused people issues when they're using on-demand instances and their software relies on specific CPU features, in particular when those features only exist on current-gen CPUs).
PS - Also 10,000 is not even ballpark how many physical servers Amazon has (try 450,000).
> When it comes to labor cost - if you have enough hardware for at least one full time datacenter tech, you're in the same boat as Amazon.
I highly doubt that. Amazon's scale allows them to develop better automation, detection, and procedures in general which allows the number of staff per server to be very low. For example, a single dedicated tech' might be able to handle 10-30 servers MAYBE, whereas at Amazon that might be just a single rack and effectively each tech might be responsible for hundreds of physical machines (even if automation does the lion's share of the heavy lifting).
> So you're paying Amazon to do the same work you would do otherwise - only you're subject to their rules and procedures and Amazon being a profitable business needs to mark their services up.
I will fully admit that a company like SoftLayer (per the article) can give Amazon's EC2 a run for its money. However as someone who's seen the costs associated with running servers in house (in particular staffing costs) I struggle to buy that you can under-cut Amazon by doing so (at least until you have a LOT of servers, and even then frankly it is less hassle to out-source it anyway).
There are legitimate arguments for why you'd want to do so e.g. privacy, security, legal reasons, unique hardware/OS, etc. However if you're just doing something generic like web-host+database, then out-sourcing it to a dedicated company is more cost effective. In particular when you start looking at the hidden costs of internal hosting (like office space, heating/electricity, security, and so on).