Ever since cloud computing was made widely accessible by the likes of Amazon, Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Engine, a large amount of companies has taken advantage of the flexibility and scalability that the cloud offers. However great it may seem though, virtual hardware doesn’t always work for everyone. When consistency in traffic is reached at a considerably high amount of visitors, buying actual bare-metal servers far beats the current pricing models of the big cloud computing providers.
So how do we effectively leverage the cloud’s advantages?
The power of the cloud is of course in its flexibility and positively volatile nature. If your traffic increases suddenly, you can spin up dozens of additional instances within minutes to help your cluster manage the peaks. When the traffic drops again, you immediately are able to rid yourself of the work horses you just ordered. Because you pay for the instances by the hour, this can be repeated ad infinitum to keep your running costs to an absolute minimum.
When we look at that use case, it should remind us of a certain type of business or project: a startup.
Startup businesses, as well as “startup projects” -large projects that are still uncertain in their chance of succession- within existing businesses, are by definition of their nature perfectly suited for the cloud. There are periods of little traffic, at which point your cluster of instances is downsized to the smallest possible size, and there might be peaks of large amounts of traffic (think promotional campaigns, reddit frontpaging, social viralling), during which the cluster is strengthened by enough servers to keep being able to serve your visitors. It gives you amazing flexibility whilst keeping your costs down when large infrastructure isn’t needed.
It is during this phase of your business where you profit most from having a cloud infrastructure by your side. Only when you grow to a certain amount of traffic, and that traffic remains consistent, do you have to look into bare-metal solutions, and even then a hybrid public cloud / private datacenter solution is most likely still the way you’ll go.