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HotPads Shows the True Cost of Hosting on Amazon

| by Jean-Jacques Dubray Follow 3 Followers on Jun 22, 2009. Estimated reading time: 1 minute |

Matthew Corgan, president of HotPads, gave a talk on how HotPads uses AWS to run their real estate search engine. Todd Hoff explains:

  • It gives real costs on their servers, how many servers they have, what they are used for, and exactly how they use S2, EBS, CloudFront and other AWS services. This is great information for anybody trying to architect a system and wondering where to run it.
  • HotPads is a "real" application. It's a small company and at 4.5 million page-views/month it's large but not super large. It has custom server side components like indexing engines, image processing, and background database update engines for syncing new real estate data. And it also stores a lot of images and has low latency requirements.
  • This a really good example mix of where many companies are or would like to be with their applications.

Matt explains that their total costs are about what they were paying at their previous provider. Todd continues:

I found this is a little surprising as I thought the cloud would be more expensive, but they only pay for what they need instead of having to over provision for transient uses like testing. And some servers aren't necessary anymore as EBS handles backups so database slave servers are no longer required.

Todd summarized some of the lessons learned:

  • The major reason for choosing EC2 was the cloud API which allows adding servers at any time. In their previous hosting service they had to prepay for a month at a time
  • If the cost is about the same, the overall speed of development and ease of management is night and day different.
  • The advantage of Amazon over a PaaS like Google App Engine is that Amazon allows you to innovate by building your own services on your own machines.
  • S3 is better for larger objects. For small files that are not viewed often the cost of puts outweighs everything.
  • CloudFront is 10 times faster than S3 but is more expensive for infrequently viewed files.
  • ...

 Do you think cost is going to be a factor of adoption for Cloud Computing infrastructures? or will other benefits drive the adoption? if so which ones? Can Cloud Computing thrive without a cost benefit?

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