For a nice insight into how many server instances is being served up by Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service, read this Computerworld article by Bernard Golden, CEO of consulting firm, HyperStratus.
In nutshell, Golden points out that the accuracy of a recent analysis by Guy Rosen, which estimated the number of server instances provisioned on a daily basis by Amazon’s EC2 service at 50,000 – or some 18 million yearly, is not really that important. The fact is “people are putting a lot of servers up on Amazon: Whether the real number is 1.8 million or 18 million EC2 instances, it’s clear that a lot of computing is being done up on Amazon,” he writes.
So why are people turning to clouds? Cost and ease of use, Golden writes.
“People are putting a lot of servers up on Amazon because it’s cheap: There’s lots of debate about whether cloud computing through an external provider can be less expensive than via an internal data center. I’ve addressed this question before in previous posts. Notwithstanding the larger question of TCO, there’s no denying that it’s dirt cheap to get started via the cloud. I heard one anecdote about NASDAQ’s AWS application-when they got started one executive was astonished that their bills were running $5 per month. It’s common in the early stages of a project that little actual computing is done-designs are worked on, a small prototype is put up and run, problems are identified, the prototype is taken down while the code is worked on. In a traditional environment where the server has to be paid for upfront even if little work is done on it for weeks or months, it’s typical that a lot of money is spent for little actual use. With Amazon, people can get started on applications for-literally-pennies (dimes, anyhow). Amazon’s growth story indicates how attractive that value proposition is.
“People are putting a lot of servers up on Amazon because it’s easy: Something we discuss with companies all the time is the reduced friction in using cloud computing. Instead of the lengthy and tiresome resource request process common in IT organizations, cloud computing resources can be available with practically no overhead. Request resources via a web page, indicating parameters like amount of storage, etc., and press a button: minutes later resources are available. If you’ve ever bought a book on Amazon, you’re qualified to begin cloud computing (the process for the just announced vCloud Express product from VMware and its service provider partners is nearly as painless).
“The benefit of reduced friction is widely underappreciated, but vastly important. The easier it is to do something, the more likely one is to do it. There is a Best Buy no more than five miles from my house. But I often choose to purchase electronic goods from Amazon, because its two-day shipping makes it so easy to get stuff. The reduced friction of electronic ordering and delivery to my door trumps close access and immediate purchase. There’s no doubt that the ease of deploying compute resources on Amazon leads to people doing lots more provisioning,” he wrote.