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Our company is thinking about switching IT hosting strategy for the long run. We have been playing with some EC2 instances and we are interested in looking at a possible switch over cloud computing. Our only option is not amazon but is definitely one of the famous.

I know that there are different instance options in terms of pricing. I am wondering if there is a rule of thumb (bulkpark figure) for pricing per hour for an entire instance. This means: Including the instance price, a fair amount of BW, EBS pricing, I/O and all that good stuff. So We can make a reasonable comparison with the traditional hosting companies. This pricing might depend on the amount of traffic per server and a lot of other variables, but we are looking at an average figure, some servers could be more some others could be less.

Well, I know this might be useful to other people out there that are thinking on the switch over.

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My website is completely hosted on Amazon EC2. In fact, I have posted a guide to configuring and running a similar Drupal-based website (or any website, really) on EC2.

My current hosting bill is ~$72 per month. I run a small instance, for which performance has been excellent.

EDIT (9/3/2011): Since I wrote this, I've changed over to one of Amazon's new micro instances, which are far cheaper, and taken advantage of their reserved instance pricing. My monthly site hosting cost is now ~$12, with $4 of that due to video and other high-bandwidth content I serve up (a similar site I created for my day job is only $8 / month). I describe how to configure one of these new instances here.

Now, I only see ~400-500 hits per day, with the highest spike being ~10,000 hits in a day, but from my tests it can support much more than that. All of my persistent data (MySQL, HTML files, logs, etc.) are stored on an Elastic Block Store which is snapshotted to S3 every hour.

Don't forget, your entire website is sitting behind the same Amazon fat pipe used to serve their other web services, so you can get some really fast load and transfer times. Billing for EC2 bandwidth is the same as it is for S3, so it scales really well.

It might not compare well, cost-wise, to low-end hosting, but I've been very happy with it. The ability to clone a site in a couple of minutes, test a new configuration, then either discard that site or switch over your elastic IP to point to the new site is pretty cool. I've used the revisioned backups of the EBS to roll back to a point before I accidentally deleted something and recover the deleted file.

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I don't think AWS compares well for straight web hosting -- it's more for large scale apps that have dramatic peaks.

If you do go the EC2 route for hosting your website:

  • Don't use an m1.small instance. Use at least a c1.medium. m1.small instances are underpowered, especially for dynamic sites.
  • I doubt you'll need EBS, unless you have a very large website. The m1.small instances have about 150GB of space available on them, and it only goes up from there. Unless you plan on doing something special, you won't need it.
  • Stick your assets in S3 and serve them up with CloudFront -- save your web server cpu time for processing dynamic content.

There is an AWS calculator available as well. I plugged in two c1.medium instances (~1500 hours), 512GB of bandwidth, plus 1TB of cloudfront bandwidth over 1 million requests. It came out to about $600/month.

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You can get a rough estimate using our cost estimator. Bandwidth, etc should be added on top of it, but should not be much in most cases.

In case you plan to run servers for long periods of time, you may also consider using dedicated instances which reduce the price significantly.

Although Amazon Web Services may seem more expensive than regular hosting, it offers really nice features like CDN, hosted databases (RDS) and load balancing that you can add as necessary. At BitNami we run a Cloud Hosting Service on top of Amazon and we have thousands of people running on the system. Many of them come from shared hosting or dedicated hosting setups and are quite happy with the switch.

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Thanks Guys this was very useful information to me. I am trying to find the best EC2 configuration to suit my needs. I think AWS has it over Microsoft Azure. Cheers Ben