Amazon EC2 - Hosting Cost Considerations

Amazon EC2 – Hosting Cost Considerations

Hosting a busy Drupal site on Amazon EC2 is something we’ve been doing for nearly three years. At the time we commenced our site the Amazon cloud service was fairly new and was considered a bleeding edge solution by many. Here I summarize my opinions on the cost of hosting on EC2.

Many people look at the hourly rates of the EC2 instances, work out the monthly cost and think “Ouch, that’s expensive.” The true cost of using Amazon vs. separate hosting solutions is far more complex than simply seeing at the hourly or monthly cost of running a server, storing data and bandwidth costs. I won’t cover EBS, S3, ELB and bandwidth costs here; it’s been done plenty of times before. Hopefully, my thoughts may benefit when looking at costing a hosting provider, regardless of whether it’s EC2 or another solution.

Poorly Performing Servers Cost More

For most users running an uncomplicated website, many of the other virtual hosting providers such as Linode will offer far better performance for less money. I use Linode for all personal projects, the headline cost (i.e. without bandwidth or storage considerations) between running an EC2 micro instance and the least Linode server is negligible.

Put solely a well-performing server can handle added traffic than a poorly performing server. This means with the well-performing server you can concede the point when you need to get more servers (i.e. scale out) or gets a bigger server (i.e. scale up) – the longer you can defer this conclusion the more money you’re saving. To get an idea of relative performance between EC2 and other hosting solutions research for “VPS Performance Comparison” on Google – there’s plenty of good data out there.

Management Cost

Another point to consider is supervision or administrative cost of a server farm. As briefly considered before we use Scalr to manage our Amazon EC2 Services. Scalr lets us configure and deploy complex, load equitable farms in a matter of minutes. Scalr comes in two flavors: commercially financed and open source.