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Amazon.com takes its own medicine with EC2 migration

28 Nov 2012
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LAS VEGAS: Amazon.com has outlined its own experiences with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in hopes of building customer interest in the company's cloud computing platform.

Speaking at the company's inaugural re:Invent conference, Amazon.com principal technical program manager Laura Grit described how the retail service is moving its own operations from on-premise systems to its cloud computing platform.

"People think that AWS was created for Amazon retail, that cannot be further from the truth," Grit explained.

"Amazon retail is just another customer of AWS."

Grit said that the company decided to partner with AWS several years ago when Amazon executives noted that traffic on the company's web server fleet fluctuated rapidly on a daily basis and climbed steeply over the holiday season.

With such wildly inconsistent traffic levels, the company found itself with far more hardware than it needed much of the year. Grit estimated that the company wasted as much as 40 percent of its capacity every week and as much as 75 percent of capacity outside of the seasonal peaks.

Given the wide range of traffic requirements, the company found that its EC2 cloud would be a perfect solution.

"One of the main benefits that people talk about is the ability to dynamically scale capacity up and down based on demand," Grit said.

"You can see that the web server fleet should be the poster child for this."

The company shut down its final physical web server in November of 2010 and has been relying exclusively on EC2 instances for its web servers since.

That migration taught the company a number of important lessons, particularly in how migrations should be planned and executed. Grit said that many times the decision to migrate is based more on the technological capabilities and the strength of management teams than the ease of moving the application itself.

"You don't need to migrate everything to AWS all at once," she explained.

"Chose your early migration targets carefully and use them to make progeress and a cultural change in your company."

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Shaun Nichols
About

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for V3.co.uk. He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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