The cloud is safer than your data center

I’ve moved over to the amazon computing cloud (from, where it’s been hosted for the last 5 years). It was dead easy to make a system that keeps your data in safe, redundant storage … MUCH easier than it would be with a typical hosting company.  To be blunt: I think that hosting an app in the cloud is probably much safer than doing it in your own data center.

My setup looks like this:
1) An ec2 small instance server, rented on the spot market (currently costing about 21$/month, 1/3rd of the retail price you’d pay amazon).
2) A 2GB “Elastic Block Store” volume on ec2 for saving the database files and wordpress application files (because if a cloud server goes away, you need to make sure your data doesn’t). The EBS volume is mounted to the EC2 box. It costs like 40 cents a month.
3) One “Elastic IP address” (to map a static IP address to the ec2 machine, which is necessary since it might disappear at any moment).
4) One “Security Group” configured to only let in http traffic from the broader internet (all other ports are blocked).

Both (2) and (3) might seem like overengineering for a simple blog. But they were so easy to set up that it didn’t matter. It was easy and cheap to “do the right thing” and set up a system that could survive the disappearance of the server (maybe with an hour of downtime as I fire up a new node and run a couple of scripts).

Cloud computing basically forces you to take the precautions that you really should be taking anyway, and provides infrastructure that make these precautions trivial to set up. And that means that your app is probably a lot safer in the cloud than it ever was on dedicated hardware!

2 thoughts on “The cloud is safer than your data center

  1. Daniel May 31, 2010 / 4:53 am

    Nice article. My experience is, that you need a least 2 instances in different availability zones, because it’s not unlikely that one data centre is down at Amazon. I personally switched couple of important web applications back from Ec2 to my normal hosting facility, because it was cheaper and the stability is much higher. For me ec2 only makes sense, if I have applications which really make use of dynamic launching and killing of instances.


    • admin June 6, 2010 / 3:03 pm

      Wow! That doesn’t match my experience as well. Maybe you’re unlucky or more uptime-sensitive than we are?

      We do all our document conversion on amazon, and while we have problems, they always end up being our fault, not amazon’s. We basically ignore availability zones as an abstraction.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing your experience. It’s always great to hear other people’s perspectives on this stuff.

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