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Discussing Amazon's AWS, including costs and "how to" best advice. We also talk about related technologies. The Objective Podcast is available on iTunes.
If you are looking at the costs in moving to AWS or are concerned about AWS costs running away with you, then this is where to start.
Alex: Hello and welcome to another edition of the Objective Associates podcast with
myself Alex Ogilvie. And joining me as
always is Fraser Ingram, the CTO at
Fraser: Hi there.
Alex: Today we thought we'd cover some of the main
services that AWS offers and in
particular look at the aspects of them
that give you, or give you the
opportunity, to build a resilient
system. In particular a resilient
database. So Fraser but what are the
main things that make up AWS? Let's just
quickly recap on those.
Fraser: the core services
if you like are things like EC2 which is
your compute power, S3 which is your storage.
Lambda which is your serverless
compute power and RDS which is effectively
a managed, or a set of managed database technologies. Different database types
for different types of solutions, so you
know, you've got things like the Aurora for
large MySQL type solutions, or you've
got Microsoft SQL server available in
there, within RDS as well, or you've got
Redshift for something like Data warehouse.
Alex: Yeah, I mean it's interesting that in amongst that short list you included Lambda.
Because Lambda's obviously, well not
obviously, but it's severless computing,
and that strikes me as the ultimate
in resilience, because you don't have to worry
about any of the server technology behind
that. Amazon does that for you.
Fraser: Yeah, you don't worry about the servers or where it's running. You give it a bit of code
and you've got 5 minutes to run it. Or up to five minutes to run it. on And yeah you
pay for the time the code was
Alex: And Amazon's gonna look after
where that's gonna run and how it's going to execute. So from a resilience point of
view that's probably almost as good as
it's gonna get.
Fraser: Yeah, I mean you tell it
which region to run on. But yeah.
Alex: You tell it the region? We'll probably
cover regions later when we talk about
RDS in a wee bit more detail. So okay so
you've got those areas of AWS that
lend themselves to making you
resilient, but I guess before you start
you want to at least have some idea
of what the costs are going to be on this
kind of stuff. So how does Amazon help
you there? How can you figure out that
you're not biting off more than you can
Fraser: Well all this, the costs on these
are all available. You can either sit and
read many webpages from Amazon
telling you about which instance size and
which, what the power is on these things
or Amazon have helpfully given you a
simple cost calculato.r And if
you Google AWS simple cost calculator
you'll drop onto a page that lets you set
up the, what do you want, what do you want to configure on AWS. Do you want to
configure EC2 instances, or do you want to configure some S3 storage, or do you want to
configure RDS. And there you choose,
you know, on these options, you choose
things like for some EC2 instance, you
would choose what type of server it is, what
license that you want to run in that
server. Is it a Linux sever is it a
Windows Server. Same with RDS, when your running up RDS on the cost
calculator, what you'll do is you'll say
okay, I want it to be a SQL server and
the size effectively of the instance type that database is going to run on.
Alex: So that simple calculator
is that what they call the Cost
Explorer or is that different.
Explorer is a bit different. Cost Explorer is
within your AWS console and that in effect
is telling you what you are spending at
Alex: Right, okay, so that's more for
management rather than for project
Fraser: Yeah, yes, so Cost Explorer
will give you daily breakdowns and
forward-looking projections on what you
have spent, and what you are spending and will also give you some recommendations.
So give your recommendations on things
like, okay, based on the last seven days
it looks like you should go away and buy these reserved instances in order to bring your
costs down a little bit.
Alex: But I guess there's
more to running a resilient database than
simply the cost of the server, so is
there any way that you can figure out
the cost of ownership? How do you do that?
Fraser: Well, I mean, Amazon have another
calculator as well. They've got a total cost of ownership calculator and that genuinely
does things like compare what it would
cost to have a on-premise solution or a
data center co-located type solution,
versus what it would cost you to put this
in AWS. So effectively genuinely
calculating the total cost of owbership
on these things.
Down to kind of of power and engineering and all the rest of
the things that you need to do, to be
putting together an onpremise or
colocated system. Versus what that costs
on AWS. As you can imagine AWS
comes out pretty favorably in that.
I was going to say it sounds like a
wonderful marketing tool that Amazon's
built for itself. To show you that
no doubt their solution is cheaper and more efficient than anything else you can buy.
Fraser: Well, yeah I mean absolutely, I mean it's about economies of scale at that
point. You know, you're buying into the
economies of scale that Amazon
provide and that you can't get on your
Alex: Alright so you've got a
couple of things here. You've got Cost
Explorer for when you're up and running
to help you manage your costs and adjust
it to save money.
You've got this simple cost calculator
that let's you just configure things and
comes up with a bottom line. And then
you've got this kindof total cost of
ownership calculator. So they're really,
going to quite some lengths to actually
show you that they genuinely want to
show you what the cost of these things are.
Fraser: Yeah, absolutely and let you control
them. Because part of being
using AWS is giving you this flexibility and
elasticity on, you know, being able to
add compute power, but also take compute
power away when you don't need it. Which is completely different from, you know,
if you're working on an onpremise or a
colocated type solution.
Where you're pretty much fixed on what you're buying. Whereas within AWS you can
start scaling back, scaling up and scaling back when you need to. And your costs
flex at the same rate.
Alex: We've mentioned RDS a lot here, I'm
suspecting that that's one of the core
things that's available to you if you
want to build a resilient database system. So talk us through RDS, whats
it doing for us that makes it so
resilient, so helpful.
Fraser: So RDS, if
you think of a SQL server RDS type
solution, Microsoft SQL Server,
effectively you've got, your live database
and then you've got a mirror of your
database. And there's a fast switch over
between those two, so effectively those
two databases, if you think of them as
the live and the mirror, if you think of
them as sitting in different datacenters.
Because they'll be in what AWS call
availability zones, so effectively what you can think of is different data centers. And
then if one datacentre goes down you've got the mirror sitting ready to run
on the second datacenter.
Alex: Alright, so RDS is doing all that mirroring for you.
Fraser: It's all managed for you, they set it up, they manage it, they make sure that's
happening. And then they switch over happens exactly as it needs to
Alex: And happens automatically?
Fraser: Happens automatically, yeah.
Alex: Because all that stuff is pretty
complicated. Even setting up a reliable
mirroring system is pretty complicated
Fraser: Yeah, yeah, and Amazon are taking that pain
away from you. And that's just on SQL
server you know you can do the same on
mySQL, you can do the same on Aurora.
Actually on Aurora you can have up to six
databases some already live.
Alex: And you mentioned zones here right, so okay,
I get the idea that a zone is
equivalent to a datacenter. So where are
these zones located is one in
the States and one in London? I mean how's this work?
Fraser: Yeah, they are
all over the world, so close by us we've
got one in Ireland, we've got one in
Frankfurt, we've got one in London, so they're
the regions within AWS, and each region
has got at least two availability zones.
And those availability zones are like the
Alex: Okay, so Ireland is
a region, and within some place
in Ireland they've got at least two zones.
So if you were setting up a resilient RDS
system one of your databases is
in zone 1 and one is in zone 2 within
Alex: Do they share that information? I mean is that public information or do they keep that
Fraser: No, that's all public, they've
got their zones are all named, so
you can choose, if you're spinning up an
EC2 instance you can choose which zone you want
it to be in. So you can choose you know
some to be in one zone, some to be in
another zone for resilience.
Alex: Because you may well want to build your
own resilient system you have to know
And I guess then given that
potentially you could be using a London
zone and Ireland zones as well, then from
a global perspective you've actually got
capability through all that to build a pretty robust system.
Fraser: Yeah, I mean if you want to
build a globally robust system what
you're looking at is, use a couple of
regions, so use regions that are
close to your customers. So use the East
Coast of the States, use Ireland, or use
something that's in Asia Pacific.
Alex: And does the price
change from region to region, do we know?
Fraser: Yeah, it does, yeah, you know the
price of compute power in one region
will be different to the price of compute
power in another region. I guess thats to do with connectivity and power costs and all
the rest of it.
Alex: I guess that makes
And again that could influence the way
in which you pull together your
particular system. It could
potentially alter the price
significantly I guess.
Fraser: Yeah, I mean, a few
cents here and there.
But a few cents here per hour if you're using a
lot of power, it all adds up.
Alex: Well that sounds like a failrly good explanation of some of the
features within AWS that
can allow it to be very resilient
even on a global basis.
All right folks we'll you've heard it here. The main
components EC2, S3, Lambda and RDS. We suggest you do a bit of Googling but if you need
any help feel free to give us a call or
drop by the website at
So from me and Fraser have a good day.
The Objective Podcast is available on iTunes
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