Since the establishment of Qobo just over three years ago, we’ve tried a number of web hosting options.  At first, we considered our own hosting. Then we went through a plethora of web hosting companies, using both shared and dedicated hosting.  Some of the companies were bad, and we quickly abandoned them.  Some were much better – the likes of SiteGround, Arvixe, and RapidSwitch. And finally, we’ve tried the cloud options – both Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS.

Here are some of the reasons why we ended up with the latter.

Our own hosting

Pros:

  • 100% control of all infrastructure – power, connectivity, hardware and software.
  • Proximity – all of it is very nearby, geographically.
  • Prestige – guests are often impressed with beautifully built data centers.

Cons:

  • Huge costs! – purchasing the hardware and parts, paying for redundant connectivity and power, employing larger workforce, etc.
  • Latency – we are based in Cyprus, which has about 80ms latency to mainland Europe. US and Asia can often be over 200ms away.
  • Complexity – we are web development company, and that’s what we want to focus on. Hosting, while being very important is not our core business.

Shared or dedicated hosting

Pros:

  • Cost – web hosting is highly competitive market, with lots of players, and some very attractive packages.
  • Latency – most web hosting companies offer multiple the choice of multiple geographical locations.
  • Simplicity (with small scale) – standard offerings, easy comparison, clear specs.

Cons:

  • Complexity (with larger scale) – difficult to upgrade/downgrade server hardware, complex management of multiple servers / locations.
  • Reliability – server and network outages, bankruptcies and takeovers.
  • Infrastructural limitations – lack of security options, pick load options, etc.

Cloud hosting

Pros:

  • Cost – while not always as cheap as shared or dedicated hosting, still attractive and much cheaper than self hosting.
  • Latency – multiple geographical locations
  • Scaleability – this is very the cloud shines the most – scale up or down servers, networks, data centers, and all with extreme ease.
  • Simplicity (with any scale) – web and mobile management consoles, APIs, tonnes of documentation, everything integrated, etc.
  • Availability – both technologically (high uptime records, quick recovery) and business-wise (large companies, SLAs, etc)

Cons:

  • Control – even with virtual private clouds and dedicated infrastructure, there is still a lot that goes behind the curtains (think virtualization, network throttling, etc)
  • Vendor lock-in (optional) – to take full advantage of all the services, you have to follow the One True Vendor way.

So, after considering the above, trying out different options, and running them for some time, we’ve decided to use Amazon AWS for all our web hosting needs.  Some of the advantages of Amazon AWS over other cloud options were:

  • Attractive pricing – not only Amazon offers low prices today, but they’ve been known for their history of price reductions – over 40 reductions in their 10 years of operation!  Consider, for example, their smallest EC2 t2.nano 1-year reserved instance in Ireland for a once off $38 USD payment.  And that’s not even the lowest you can go!
  • Features – Amazon AWS offers over 50 services in three layers of the cloud infrastructure – Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).  All of these are integrated with each other and form a really wide range of options to consider.
  • Scaleability – it seems that no project is too small or large for Amazon AWS. Low-end virtual machines come with 512 MB of RAM and 1 virtual CPU, while their high-end servers go up to 160 GB RAM monsters with 40 virtual CPUs.  You can get as many of them as you need, all over the world, at any time.  You can scale up or down a single machine, or a whole lot of them.  You can do that manually or automatically.  And that also applies to their other services – networking, storage, databases, etc.

After working with Amazon AWS for over a year now, I have to say that we are very happy with their services – fast, reliable, and with excellent support.  We had the opportunity to ask for help a couple of times, and we’ve received immediate and very professional response.

In the future posts, we’ll describe in more detail which services we are using and how.  But for now, if you are just looking into this whole web hosting area, I strongly recommend considering Amazon AWS as an option.  Of, it’s too complex of a subject for you to spend the time on, talk to us and we’ll sort you out.