SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

One Week Later on Amazon Web Services

Posted by Bob Warfield on December 8, 2008

Well it’s official.  My company, Helpstream, has now been running our application entirely on Amazon Web Services for a week and we’re very happy with the result–it’s better, faster, and cheaper.  We’ve gotten a more robust system for our multitenant SaaS application that’s actually cheaper and easier for us.  Customers are reporting that the application even seems faster than it had been.  The effort involved was not too bad, though we did go through a multi-stage process before committing everything to Amazon.  I’ve chronicled that process on our corporate blog if you’re interested in seeing how such transitions are done.

Meanwhile, I can’t imagine why startups are fooling around with their own data centers.  Easy for me to say, we were too just one short week ago!  But seriously folks, given the current economy and the fact that you can deliver a better service more easily and cheaply with Amazon, why wouldn’t you make that a high priority?

I remember sitting in our weekly staff meeting with my Products organization discussing how to phase the transition.  We’ve got quite a lot of business activity on the horizon, as well as over 120 customers using the service at present.  I was arguing for more baby steps and my fear that we might screw something up.  My Director of Operations made the statement that when he looked at Amazon versus the sort of datacenter a startup can run, he couldn’t understand how we could afford to wait any longer than we had to.   What he meant was that the capabilities of AWS were not something we could even begin to approach any time soon.  When we took a careful look at what we were afraid of happening in a move, it turned out there was a strategy to mitigate every single risk.  So, we put together our migration plan and got on with it.  Boy were we happy we did!

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6 Responses to “One Week Later on Amazon Web Services”

  1. Can you share some of your thoughts and maybe mitigations of amazon downtime?

  2. perpetapaul said

    WOW! This both scares me and excites me at the same time! We manage a lot of data (PDF) on SANs and have huge databases. My first thought is to keep it on servers that are dedicated to us in a data center (outsourced) in order to “keep control”. But you are proving that I need to keep re-thinking my position.

    Thanks for the feedback. You may have just started to gain another convert…

    Paul

  3. [...] Warfield, executive vice president of products at Helpstream, recently disclosed the company’s move on his blog, his corporate blog and to the Enterprise Irregular mailing list. On Tuesday, Warfield, along with [...]

  4. [...] http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/one-week-later-on-amazon-web-services/ [...]

  5. [...] Read his post on: http://smoothspan.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/one-week-later-on-amazon-web-services/ [...]

  6. rnugent said

    Congratulations Bob, welcome to the cloud!

    @perpetapaul my recommendation is to do it. We have customers will many terabytes of PDFs on Amazon S3 and no control issues what so ever. In fact we’ve recommend they focus on man in the middle attacks against their risk profile as that seems to be the more probable weak point.

    @Søren Bjerregaard Vrist not to speak for Helpstream but we have many servers that have been running flawlessly since July and several that go back to May. By far, AWS downtime is superior to your avg. corp data center.

    Ray

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