“We launched and originally hosted Unfuddle on Rackspace, who was an excellent provider but after two and a half years, our growth had accelerated and we discovered that Rackspace’s offering forced us into a rigid and expensive trajectory,” recalls Frappier. In the second half of 2008, Unfuddle needed to make a decision: continue with Rackspace or switch to a more dynamic, scalable infrastructure platform such as Amazon EC2.
After doing some testing and cost analysis, they decided to move to AWS. Frappier states, “Unlike traditional dedicated hosting environments, AWS gives us unprecedented control over all aspects of our infrastructure. The ability to commission new systems or to even reconfigure our entire topology is right at our fingertips. Coming from a traditional hosting environment this is very empowering and has really lowered the risk involved with trying out new solutions to problems. It has allowed us to cheaply and easily try (and fail with) new ideas.”
Unfuddle is now using Amazon EC2 and S3 for virtually 100% of its infrastructure, including web and database servers. Unfuddle makes extensive use of EBS volumes and snapshots which has completely transformed their backup process and gives them nearly instantaneous access to archived customer data.
“Previously, we were constantly battling our own growth and success. Amazon Web Services in conjunction with a more flexible topology has enabled virtually infinite scalability for Unfuddle. This is critical as it means that we no longer have to limit growth in new areas of business opportunity for fear of affecting our existing customer base,” explains Frappier.
To best take advantage of AWS, the Unfuddle team revamped vast amounts of code to decouple their systems and scale horizontally. “Now that there is no longer an imminent need to upgrade our infrastructure, we can return to improving the feature set of Unfuddle.”
By moving to AWS, Unfuddle’s site performance improved significantly across the board. After announcing their switch, Unfuddle customers responded with praise. One blog response states, “Wow. Speed is now excellent. Thank you very much for this step forward! Keep up the excellent service.”
Like many small companies, cost and performance played a big part in their infrastructure decisions. But in reality, these were only partial advantages to AWS and cloud computing. Frappier explains, “The most important advantage turned out to be configuration flexibility and improved risk management. Looking back, we now know that moving to Amazon EC2 was the right decision. Thus far, AWS is greatly exceeding the expectations we placed upon it.”
“Amazon Web Services has challenged Unfuddle to think differently and more broadly about our infrastructure and Unfuddle customers are benefiting daily from that challenge. No longer are we fighting our infrastructure as a necessary evil. Moving to AWS may be the single biggest and most positive technical decision Unfuddle has made as a company since our launch.”
Headquartered in Honolulu, Unfuddle’s founders operate the service from across the globe in Hawaii, mainland US and Europe. For more on Unfuddle, visit unfuddle.com .