Why AWS makes sense for startups

Amazon is quietly changing the world. And no, not by the e-commerce behemoth that it was originally known for but by its ever expanding array of cloud computing services. Amazon Web Services (AWS) originally made by a small team in South Africa has changed how software is built, distributed and consumed. Yes, so it is great and all, but isn’t cloud computing only for big corporations? Actually, if you are a startup, learning about AWS might just be the best investment you make. Not only will it reduce your costs but also save you from nightmares once you start scaling up.


Let us go into some specific use cases.


Common storage solution for scale – If your application has to have a centralised storage, old-age solution is NFS or GFS. Either way, you need costly provisioning and maintaining of the server. Maintenance of NFS or GFS is a big deal and is a huge overhead for startups. AWS S3 comes in handy, there is no maintenance required for handling S3 or need to plan beforehand for when the usage grows to the next level. Further you don’t need to plan the backup and DR as aggressively as you need to do in case of NFS or GFS


Content distribution optimization – Specifically for media sites that have global users, it is imperative to serve content from the nearest hub. Setting up such an infrastructure will easily cost anyone a bomb. However with Amazon CDN (Content Delivery Network), implementing such an infrastructure is ridiculously easy and cheap (as you only pay as much you use). Now you don’t need to be funded to think about building an application that require media streaming.


Transcoder – In the traditional world, you make your media application either compatible with mac, or windows, or xbox or any other application where you feel you have most of your users. To experiment with users on other platform, a detailed level of planning was required. Organisations needed to setup a dedicated team for the new platform with the corresponding codec experience, supplemented with a need to plan for monitoring and roll-out. In all the effort required was huge and a proved to be a barrier for experimenting. AWS transcoder service can reduce this effort to as little as one week.


SES, SQS & SNS (Simple Emailing Service, Simple Queuing Service, Simple Notification Service ) – These are some handy services that are now an API call away. Again, in traditional world you will have to have at least a server running for each of these services whether you use it or not. With AWS you can setup these services and don’t need to pay if you don’t use it. There is no additional maintenance required, either for monitoring or for ensuring the availability of these services.


Big data – A term which used to make sense only for companies who could afford data centres of their own. Before EMR (Elastic Map Reduce) people would have heard of big data only in books or if they were from the research team of yahoo, google, FB etc. To be able to start on hadoop you need a cluster of servers for processing reduce jobs. Outside AWS creating a cluster will require an upfront investment on the servers, which only a few can afford. Further that cluster will only be used when the job is running. Rest of the time the machines will be kept idle or prove to be redundant. AWS gives developers the power to create the cluster of machines, run it for the duration required and then terminate it. So you pay only in terms of number of hours the machine was used.


Further the development resources required for setting up the hadoop infrastructure is reduced by EMR. With EMR there is no need to worry about setting up hadoop or maintaining that environment. In big data now you only have to worry about the Data and the algorithm.

Data storage – Any small organisation can store archival data at a minimum cost using glacier. Many small organisations can’t afford backup of data and provide SLA on its durability. AWS allows everyone to now have backup policies for their data at a very reasonable cost.


On AWS hosting comes with certification – so you comply with all recognised security certificates automatically which otherwise were completely out of reach of smaller or even mid sized organisations.

In addition to these, AWS also takes care of the basic hygiene of the application when you start using particular services like license and monitoring. All the licences required by you to use the service are already procured when the service is invoked.

Article contributed by Prashant Gyan: Prashant (LinkedIn Profile) is the COO at Minjar, an AWS consulting company. He can be reached at prashant at minjar dot com


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