TvE 2100

At 2100 feet above Santa Barbara

Top Missing Features for Amazon EC2

We need Static IPs. Dynamic IPs don’t work for a reliable web server. Hopefully a solution will come combined with a simple load balancing option.

SQL database: I think that what’s really missing is a SQL database service. Yes, I can run mysql or similar on EC2, but it’s really not a good fit. The lack of persistence is not a show-stopper but it is a pain right now. But more importantly, the machine specs for CPU speed, memory size, number of spindles, and disk space just don’t cut it. There isn’t enough oomph there to run a real database-backed web service. Amazon needs to step up and offer a D2B service: Distributed DataBase. I’ll pay for storage at 2x the cost of S3 (since DB storage tends to be more expensive) and $.20 per MegaTransactions (equivalent to $0.20 for 1 hour at 277 tps). Well, 2006 isn’t over yet, is it :-)

The lack of persistence is not an real showstopper issue. The only set-up I could imagine that would really improve things is if they had SAN type of storage attached to their machines. This way the machine can be fried and your data is still intact on the SAN and can be mounted on a fresh machine. Use RAID on the SAN to safeguard against failures there or against datacenter-wide outages. At that point, failures should be down sufficiently in probability that a “disaster recovery” type of backup is sufficient. For example incremental backups to S3 every 10-30 minutes. Alternatively all enterprise class SANs have mirroring options. You could pay Amazon a few more bucks to be allocated on a wide-area mirrored SAN partition. But all this gets into big bucks quickly, even on an Amazon scale, so I don’t think we’ll see that anytime soon.

I believe the persistence issue will be solved though log replication. Replicate database logs to another instance or to S3 in a real-time manner and have EC2 give you some control over the placement of instances so that a cluster pair has some degree of failure isolation. For files use a log-based filesystem and also replicate the logs. Ok, all that will take some time for people to sort out, but when they/we do, everyone will benefit, not just EC2 users because all this is not just an EC2 problem. Your machine at joe-hosting.com is just as affected. Just that usually when it crashes your disk doesn’t get wiped, or if the motherboard dies joe moves the HD to the new box for you. Just wait until something more interesting happens, or the datacenter goes out for a few hours and the data is as good as gone because you have to bring up your disaster recovery datacenter after 30 minutes of outage and once traffic hits it you can’t merge any data recovered from the old box back in anymore.