CentraStage CTO: Why we use Amazon Web Services

CloudPro recently likened Amazon Web Services to being 'Like IBM in the 80s', but in our opinion people like to attack Amazon Web Services (AWS) because of their leading position in the market.

We shifted our endpoint management service into the AWS cloud after assessing multiple cloud hosting platforms. We looked at a number of different providers including Microsoft Azure and Rackspace, but we ultimately went with AWS on the basis of their existing offering and aggressive roadmap.

We've been up and running since 2008 and have been really happy with their service. AWS have had their problems but certainly no more than anyone else, and by planning for failure of individual systems when designing your cloud infrastructure it is possible to minimise or even eliminate disruptions.

We host in multiple AWS regions, so even if one of those AWS regions broke down we wouldn't have problems. People like to make a lot of noise when there is a problem with AWS, and yes it does affect people, but all of our experiences and investigations of other platforms show that AWS is better. There is a lot of criticism but that is what comes with being number one – people like to throw stones when they can.

A problem many organisations have when moving to the cloud, whether it be Azure or AWS, is that they have forklifted their existing solution into the cloud and that doesn't really work; if you've got an existing solution running against 10 servers in a data centre and you decide to host it in the cloud, it is not simply about taking that solution as it is currently designed and architected and then hosting it within the cloud. The organisation has to specifically architect the solution to fit within the cloud, so that in the event of any of the infrastructure failing you can shield your customers from that.

Our long-term vision is to bring simple, affordable, scalable IT management software to the masses. The scale, coverage and efficiency of AWS allow us to deliver a service globally, over the Internet, offering functionality to organisations for which IT management has previously been commercially and technically non-viable.

The scale, reach and economy of AWS means we have the opportunity to be flexible as the company, and the device estate that we manage, grows. We have computing power at our finger tips that pre-AWS was the preserve of multi-nationals. With AWS we have no capital investment in infrastructure, no step changes in cost as we take on more customers.

In fact, quite the opposite – with the regular price reductions we see from AWS, the ongoing improvements in how we can optimise our technology for the infrastructure plus the ability to reserve instances and play the AWS spot markets, we continually reduce our variable cost per device served. To our investors this seems almost magical; that as we grow not only does our primary variable cost – of serving and supporting devices running the CentraStage agent – keep falling, but our AWS costs are entirely linear. For our investors AWS is quite simply pivotal to our value proposition, our business model and to our ability to build shareholder value.

Ian van Reenen is CTO and co-founder of CentraStage, the cloud-based device management solution.