Amazon web services hit the news a few months ago as revenue growth slowed and pricing dropped.
This was very exciting news for many firms utilizing AWS. This wasn’t the case three years ago when we were evaluating what direction to take in regards to iovation’s own data centers. At that time, we were comparing the costs involved with maintaining a data center to switching to AWS.
In the process of investigating what would work best for our company we found that AWS had:
- Higher costs
- Inconsistent performance
- Poorer/variable latency
Our requirements included predictable costs, consistent and predictable performance and greater efficiency. As a SaaS company it can be a challenge to fully grasp the business model as it relates to the cost of service. At iovation we’ve made it a priority to understand the true cost of managing our data. For every one transaction we process there may be 50 to 100 events that run in the background. That’s well over a billion events a day. So believe me when I say we are serious about managing our data efficiently.
We’ve watched closely as companies like Facebook and Google have changed core data center strategy. The Open Compute Project Facebook started is about hacking conventional computing infrastructure to make servers more efficient and less expensive to build. iovation shares Facebook’s goals when it comes to locating, developing and managing the data center infrastructure the “right way” to ensure high uptime, capacity, availability, flexibility, and operational cost efficiency.
Ultimately, we decided to manage our own data centers using colocation facilities. While many companies pay per cabinet, we rent large cage spaces which helps reduce our costs. The colo provides the space, power, cooling and physical security. I know that at any time I can walk an auditor to any of our servers, point to them and say, “It’s right there.” Many of our clients have indicated how important it is to them to that we manage private data centers instead of using a service like AWS.
Along the way we moved from anything enterprise to generic including servers, storage and network switches. In 2011, iovation designed and implemented an upgrade that leveraged an open source stack including Apache Cassandra, ActiveMQ, PostgreSQL and Linux. We also commoditized our own internet peering, giving us the ability to choose the best route for the end user and optimizing for the best experience.
There is no doubt that Amazon has brought agility to IT that had not existed previously. While many have chosen to migrate to Amazon for these abilities, we have chosen to use them as a pattern for how to build our own infrastructure.
We recognize that data center management is ever-changing. What makes sense today for costs, efficiency and optimization, may change dramatically next year. That’s why we re-evaluate what and how we’re doing data storage on a regular basis. Right now our privately managed data centers and open source technology gives us the ability to easily scale as our business continues to grow. That efficiency, flexibility and nimbleness is something that we will always look for in our own data center strategy.