In this post, I will be talking about three cloud vendors that can be used by New Zealand business to give them a cutting edge infrastructure in the cloud.

For a business, I’m going to use the idea that we are dealing with a small to medium business who have an eCommerce website. The core services a business like this needs is low latency, stability, reliable storage of critical information good cost per performance and last but not least security.

Amazon Web Services

The first vendor is Amazon Web Services, the reason I want to talk about AWS is because over the last few months I have been creating many networks within the system and I have become pretty familiar with the system.

Who is Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Amazon Web Services is an addition to Amazon itself, AWS offers IaaS cloud infrastructure that is used by huge organisations like Netflix and Vodafone to education sectors and the general public who are wanting to host a blog or a startup.

What services does Amazon Web Services Offer to a New Zealand Business?

AWS offer a huge amount of services that can be used by anyone who has access to their online interface, AWS run off a pay as you go system so that all these services are available to you but you are only ever charged when you actually use the system itself.

How does Amazon fulfill the needs of the example business that I am using?

EC2 Instances

AWS allows the creation of EC2 instances which are cloud servers stored in a data center in one of 42 locations around the world, the EC2 instance offers a great range of operating systems to choose from as well as choosing where you wish to have the website hosted, this allows you to choose a data center close to you to avoid latency issues.

EC2 Price

Since AWS can offer such a range of computing power it allows businesses to choose from a huge selection of cloud computers, this allows the business to choose a system right for their business and not over spend on a system they will not make complete use of.

The prices differ from location to location but for the purpose of this example I am going to be looking at locations closest to New Zealand and that is Sydney Austraila.

The amount of EC2 types is huge so we will only be looking at the prices for general purpose machines.

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As you can see above depending on the business’s needs will determine the cost, but for our business, we might go for the  t2.medium.

730 hours in a month x 0.064 = $46.72 a month USD

Load balancing

Load balancing creates a stable and faultless service by running two EC2 instances next to each other to prevent downtime in a case of one server going down. The way this works is that a load balancer is setup between two EC2 instances and are connected by what is called an Elastic IP which is one IP address linking to two EC2’s. Each EC2 in the load balance could be placed in a different zone so that if one zone were to go down the eCommerce store will still be running.

 Load Balancing Price

The price of a load balancer is $0.028 an hour on top of your EC2 running costs and the minimum EC2’s need is two so not only are you adding the price of the load balancer you are adding the costs of another EC2 instance.

730 hours in a month x 0.064 = $46.72 a month x 2 = $93.44 USD

730 x 0.028 = $20.44 USD

$93.44 + 20.44 = $113.88 USD

This service for an eCommerce store is what I would call a critical service and is important in any eCommerce store that has a medium to high level of users.

S3 Bucket Storage

S3 Bucket storage is a simple storage solution that allows any information stored inside of it to be accessed from anywhere in the world as long as the user has the right permissions to access it. The S3 Bucket can be used for backups of the eCommerce store or just to hold any important records or documents.

S3 Bucket Storage Price

AWS prices actually go down the more storage you use as you can see below.

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So to get rough price lets say the website used 50GB of storage that would equal to;

50 x 0.025 = $1.25 USD

That brings AWS’s total price for our example eCommerce store to $115.13 a month USD.

Security

AWS cover many areas of security within its cloud system and goes through many stages to protect it’s clients information and data.

  • When creating an EC2 instance it is created inside of a resource known as a VPC and by default, the VPC is set with a firewall that allows the user to set custom rules to protect themselves from unwanted traffic.
  • Security of the operation of a business is extremely important and using AWS’s multi zones allows the business to be located all around the world to avoid downtime.
  • EC2’s can only be accessed by using a private key that is created during the creation of an EC2, this prevents unexpected access to your cloud system.
  • Security of a multi-billion dollar company who have an extremely good track record of uptime.
  • Ability to create user accounts for the web interface to prevent certain staff levels creating unexpected services and unwanted bills.

Rackspace

Rackspace is a cloud vendor based out of Texas America who is really making some noise in the cloud sector, I don’t mean to say that they are small, they are the complete opposite, how do I know that? Well, when a company makes 2 billion dollars in revenue in 2015 you know they must be doing something right.

Who is Rackspace

Rackspace offer IaaS cloud compute services just like AWS does but I would say they offer a more user-friendly approach. When you create an account with AWS you have all these services in front of you with no understanding of how to use them. Rackspace offers what is called Fanatical Support which means that they find out about your businesses needs and through what they call launch assistance help you get up and going in the right direction.

Instead of just giving out a solution from a list Rackspace offers a built system for your businesses needs through architect advisors. I will into more detail about the security and the end.

What Services does Rackspace offer to a New Zealand Business?

Public Cloud Server

Rackspace offers a range of cloud servers to choose from and a range of images to choose from like Linux and Windows, but using the example business and keeping the comparisons between vendors the same we will stick with general purpose machines running Linux.

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As you can see for general purpose machines the list is not as big as AWS’s but in no shape or form is it lacking. I feel it still can accommodate for an eCommerce store, also keeping in mind these cloud servers are also managed by Rackspace who will keep you informed if there are any issues with it, and will help you get it setup per your business needs and offer 24/7 – 365 days of support.

Public Cloud Server Price

Keep in mind we are only looking at general purpose machines for an eCommerce store the prices are going to vary depending on different businesses but this list will work for what we need.

If we look at sticking to the same compute service that we got from AWS we will go for the General1-2 which has half the amount of RAM but the same amount of vCPU’s.

Now they do offer two types of services which I will price up, first is raw infrastructure and the second is managed by Rackspace which add’s an extra $50.00 a month

Raw Infrastructure:

Prices are per hour so I will convert them to a monthly cost to easily compare to the other vendors.

$0.064 x 730 = $46.72 USD

Managed Infrastructure

$0.01 x 730 = 7.30 + $50.00 = $57.30 USD

Cloud Load balancers

Cloud load balancers by Rackspace work the same way as AWS’s Load balancers, the only difference is the price when it comes down to it. Rackspace doesn’t lock you into any contracts for their services and you only pay by the hour, which seems to be the most popular approach when it comes to cloud services.

Cloud Load balancer Price

The Load balancer price is $0.015 per hour but like any load balancer to work, it needs two servers to provide any sort of redundancy.

So time to add up each price.

$0.015 x 730 = $10.95 a month USD

then there is the price of running two servers and depending on what level we went with.

Raw infrastructure

$46.72 x 2 = $93.44 + $10.95 = $104.39 USD

Managed infrastructure

$57.30 x 2 = $114.60 + $125.55 USD

Scalable Cloud Object Storage

Rackspace offers object storage for files of any size and works just like AWS’s S3 bucket service allowing the user to easily upload and download files to it no matter where they are as long as they have the internet connect to Rackspace.

Rackspace offer storage from 1GB to over 1024TB, if you were wanting anything over 1024TB they ask you to get in touch with them to arrange a solution.

Cloud Object Storage Price

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Using the same example of storage from AWS of 50GB we can get a price so that we can compare.

They follow the same idea as AWS and the more space you use the less the total GB charge is.

But for our example, we are using 50GB at $0.12 per GB which calculates out to be.

50 * 0.12 = $6.00 a month USD

Security

  • Rackspace has 6 data centers located around the world, but watching a video on the Rackspace youtube channel shows that you can only make a server in the location of your account, which means you have all of your servers in one location. You should never have all your eggs in the same basket.
  • When a server is created it is only created by a root password and not a .pem key
  • Logical security is the responsibility of the customer like AWS
  • Rackspace does not go into great detail about their security but says they protect up to the hypervisor level and want to make clear that beyond that is the responsibility of the customer.
  • Account holders can create was is known as Role-Based-Access-Control this allows the customer to create accounts for their staff who might do different services within the system, so you can create billing accounts who can only view bills, Creator account who is someone who can only create and observe servers and you have the read-only account who can only look over everything.

Who is Digital Ocean

Digital Ocean is based out on New York America and offers easy to deploy IaaS at an affordable cost for a wide range of businesses, with an easy to use GUI interface to create an infrastructure known as droplets.

Digital Ocean is what I would call a top tier cloud provider, the reason for this is that they offer a range of instances for a wide variety of customers.

Services

Droplets

Digital Ocean offers cloud servers known as Droplets these come in a range of power and prices.

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Digital ocean only supports Linux distributions I believe that this comes down to license costs, seeing as Linux is free it’s understandable.
Just from looking at this picture above you can see that the prices are actually quite cheap in comparison to the other vendors.

Droplet Prices

Using our eCommerce businesses example and sticking to the same resources we used from the other vendors the best one for us to choose is the $20.00 a month and I am going to stick my hourly costs to get an exact cost which is $0.03

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$0.03 x 730 = $21.90 per month for an instance

Load Balancer

The load balancer distributes traffic between droplets to provide a stable system just like the other load balancers offered by the other vendors that I have reviewed.

Load Balancer Price

The load balancer is set at a static price per month per load balancer. Each Load Balancer is priced at $20.00 a month

So now to calculate the total cost of running a Load balancer which requires at least two droplets.

$21.90 x 2 = $43.80 + $20.00 = $60.80 making it the cheapest solution out of all the vendors even though the load balancer is more expensive than the others.

SSD Block Storage

Digital ocean offers a generic block storage solution that is used in the same way as the other two vendors.

The amount of storage they offer is anything from 1GB to 16TB.

SSD Block Storage Price

The price completely depends on the amount of storage you need, using the price calculator on Digital Oceans website you can get an exact price.

So using the example business we need 50GB of storage

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So for 50GB of storage, it costs $5.00

Security

  • SSH key encryption to ensure full security over who can access your system and make changes.
  • Firewall rules are set by default and you have to manually change rules if you need to, but if you create a public server that would be acting as a website then it would allow HTTP by default.
  • Service auditing allows a check to be run on your infrastructure to show you what ports you have open and if you have any security issues.
  • Find out more about Digital Ocean security here

Conclusion

From the above vendors I have listed three of the same services that they offer and listed the prices per services, I am going to rank them from the best price per performance for our example company, the winner might surprise you.

  1. Digital Ocean: Digital Ocean come in first place with a total monthly cost of $87.70
  2. Rackspace: Rackspace made it to second place with their total monthly cost being $157.11
  3. Amazon Web Services: And in last place AWS with a total monthly cost of $161.85.

NOTE: All server prices are based on a service that can offer close to or exactly 2GB RAM and 2vCPUs

 

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