The Cloud is Not All That

May 26 0 Comments Category: TechObservations

Everyone talks about how the barrier to entry for hacking out a space on the internet is dropping. But while the technology has certainly gotten more accessible for the casual consumer, the saturation of internet namespaces, the proliferation of web companies, and the standardization of web kits has made it harder to stand out as a company.

Although we have a decent web host, we still don’t really have a name. So many domains are parked and squatted and poorly utilized that it’s become a horrible drama to find the best name. But once you’ve got it, and all the social media trappings you have to attach to it, there are plenty of options for a web host. We’ve got a good one in Gandi.

In our company’s circumstance, it’s more important to figure out a server solution that allows for the huge and growing amount of data crunching we have to do. We use a free Amazon EC2 instance as a front-end only — all our server work is done on a set-top box at the office for now. We’ll have to scale up soon as we approach our private beta, though, and so we’ve started ┬áconsidering the differences between rack space and the cloud.

Problems with Amazon’s network–or more correctly, with the architecture of their failsafes–caused a huge stink a couple of weeks ago as a leak in containment infected several large companies. Reddit and Foursquare were particularly affected. So were we, but since no one but us uses our product so far, it was not a huge hit. But it got us thinking about the reliability of the cloud.

Another issue with the cloud is that although bandwidth is usually scaled well, the storage space is usually dismally small. Cloud companies are not set up for huge datasets. Companies at the extreme end of that spectrum–Google, Facebook, Twitter–all run their own data centers because of the need for hard disk storage. And we have the same issue. The cost for disk is so prohibitive on ┬áthe cloud, with far less flexibility and self-modulation, that it almost makes sense to pony up the money for rackspace in a shared data center.

Using a company like Linode, we figure we’d spend about $60K per 100,000 users. Ack. But hey, that’s what collecting money from advertising is all about.

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