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December 13, 2011



It really depends on what cloud means to you, since so many seem to be piling on to this over hyped word. I have spent a bit over a year managing systems in the Amazon cloud and I have to say it is the most frustrating experience ever. I'm flying to Atlanta tomorrow night to start installing hardware to move my current company out of it. ROI? 6 months or less. And we get tons more functionality, uptime, less latency etc. Oh and 4 hour on site support for servers+storage.

My last company I had a similar plan to move out of EC2, and everyone was on board until the last minute, and the internal politics at the board level killed the plan despite the fact it was going to save $2.1M in the first year of operation. Within a week of the plan being killed I left the company, my co-worker left and the VP of engineering+operations left. Within a month the director of operations left. Within two months the CTO left.

I have done other cloud analysis with other providers of "Infrastructure as a Service" both for online operations as well as disaster recovery. Compared to the way an efficient shop would do it, the ROI is amazing for doing things in house. I have said for a long time competing with the cloud is like grenade fishing in a barrel. You can go buy the most expensive equipment out there and still come on top pretty easily. I had one company quote me a $3M installation charge for something I could of bought for $700k. That's the most extreme example.

Other cloud offerings mean different things to me, like SaaS like salesforce or hosted exchange or something. Those are more related to internal IT and I haven't done that in ages so I'm not sure what life is like in internal IT, other than they frequently don't have a budget to do anything and usually have to take "hand me downs" from groups like mine to run their stuff, which is unfortunate.

About two years ago now the company I was at, at the time decided to outsource exchange, they spent a good I want to say 9 months going through the process of testing and stuff and then the actual move happened. Since then I'm fairly certain they've had quite a bit more downtime than when they hosted Exchange internally. (Microsoft has had a few very public outages on that stuff in the past year).

My current boss really likes the cloud concept. I'm not as much of a fan of it myself, I can see it being useful for larger organizations where there are a lot of changes going on, but smaller companies change is less frequent (maybe we spin up 10 new servers a month at the most on average). We still need to figure out the best provisioning process in our new environment. I've been supporting Red Hat based systems for years and have stuff based around that but we're currently using Ubuntu. I've been using Debian and Ubuntu since 1998 but still much prefer Red Hat in my enterprise.

Now the way I tend to design and build stuff it is usually very very efficient so competing against public clouds is easy. I think it is not uncommon though for dolts to be running their IT and things get less efficient. The most extreme example I can remember is the Transportation Security Administration wanting to spend $7M to start a blog.

So more recently I have started using another, older term instead of cloud at least when it comes to IaaS. Which is utility computing. Utility computing and utility storage is what I am most happy. I will not ever work for a very large organization, the red tape and politics are too much for me. Utility computing from an infrastructure stand point makes a ton of sense, "cloud", less so, because the amount of logic that is involved is very complex, and most of the canned tools are not cheap.

I have been saying for a long time IaaS providers have to fix their billing model, most systems, even in the cloud use a small amount of their provisioned resources, yet you are billed for everything.

Would you be surprised if I told you our storage UTILIZATION was 5% in the Amazon cloud and that is not uncommon? Why is it so low? Because they have a cookie cutter design that gives you 1.7TB of storage when you want a virtual machine with 68GB of memory even if all you wanted was 5GB of storage. Multiply that model over and over and low single digit numbers is common. They give you 160GB for their smallest instance size. I would guesstimate my average server needs about 4GB of written storage.

CPU and memory utilization are on par with industry average being under 20% for the most part. Because EC2 provisions VMs like physical machines, you can't pool resources which is a critical failing of the design. They are working with 90s era infrastructure strategy.

When I told my boss and co-worker the utilization numbers they, like me, were not surprised(they both have more experience in EC2 than me). The fact that we are all not surprised depresses me, given the costs of this thing, we will be doing soo much better once we are out.

If your familiar with Atlanta Chuck, and know of good places to go, let me know! I don't travel around the country much this is the first flight I've taken since 2005. I normally stick to west coast road trips.

My friend from Isilon still hasn't replied to my questions I sent him weeks ago for some reason.

Have a happy holidays

Chuck Hollis


You write the best comments by far. Unfortunately, I never have time to respond to them in detail. That doesn't mean that they're not appreciated!

I agree with the gist of your points: a well-architected and well-run IT shop has very little to worry about in regards to an external IaaS provider, even Amazon.

The catch is the "well-architected and well-run" part.

I don't get down to Atlanta all that often, but -- if I do -- I'll give you a holler. We also could connect via WebEx etc.

If you send your Isilon questions my way, I'll make sure they get answered.

-- Chuck

Dusan Daniska

Hello. I understand that this might not be the right place but I was not successful finding some relevant discussion.

I'd like to hear some comments and/or critics on the ADIOS Software Cloud servive developed by my company.

If somebody would be interested in playing around with it and give me some echo, I would appreciate.

It's at http://www.adioscloud.com

Thank you, Dusan.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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