The story of my shocking cloud bill

 Published On July 06, 2015

OK, that was admittedly a troll headline.

I have been using Amazon’s cloud computing service, called Amazon Web Services or AWS, free of charge for the last 12 months. AWS runs a free-tier program that lets you use 21 of their products for the first year without paying for them. Obviously, there are limits to what is free but generally it’s good enough for most individuals/ small businesses.

My free-tier eventually expired and I got my first bill today. Before I tell you how much I ended up paying, let’s explore what makes for a successful public cloud. In my view, when selecting a cloud computing service, it must pass the test of Choice, Availability, and Price.

It is vital for a cloud provider to have a comprehensive selection of products that keep the user on it’s platform. If the user wants to run a server, or store data, or run a database, or setup a mobile app, the platform should be able to cater to those requirements directly or through a partner ecosystem. Similarly, you’ll want to have the choice of cloud nodes in several geographies for failover and performance. For enterprises, choice would extend beyond products to include services like monitoring, logging, security, customer service, and other advisory functions.

This is the basic expectation that everyone has from a cloud service provider – it should be able to cater to any requirement you have whenever you have it. For example, if you want to spin up a 100 servers, and the cloud service provider doesn’t have sufficient capacity – you’re likely taking your business elsewhere. In my view, the definition of availability should extend to cover the uptime of the service. For users moving from on-premise datacentres to the cloud, an important consideration would be performance and uptime.

The moment of truth. My first monthly bill was a grand total of drumroll please $14.81. For this princely amount which is about the same as 3 morning lattes, I use:

  • 2 instances that are up 100% of the time
  • 1 instance that has 30% monthly usage
  • 3 network attached storage volumes of various sizes
  • 2 domains and hosted zones
  • 400MB of space on S3 for hosting a static site
  • 20GB of space on S3 for my AMIs and other artifacts
  • Load Balancers to help route traffic
  • A NoSQL table (albeit a tiny one)

$14.81/ month for all my computing needs that are available whenever I need them with no upfront investment and automatic hardware refresh? Shocking, indeed!! :) It is no wonder that businesses and individuals alike are taking to the cloud like never before. Essentially, a question of ‘WHEN’ and ‘HOW’ rather than ‘IF’.

Tags: AWS


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© 2015 - Manav Prabhakar. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
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