Modernizing with AWS

To get the most from open source software, run it where it works best

Given the incredibly rich open source ecosystem, many companies have decided to make open source software integral to how they build and run applications. Deciding to use open source software like MySQL or Apache Kafka, however, isn’t the same as effectively running it. As such, the current question isn’t whether to use open source software, but rather how (which is ultimately a question of where).

Running fully managed services in the cloud has become a preferred option for many organizations, but all clouds aren’t equal. What makes Amazon Web Services (AWS) a better place to build and run open source software? As I explain in this blog post, AWS was engineered from the outset to run open source software and has more experience running a wide variety of open source software at scale than any other cloud provider. I outline how you, like other AWS customers, can unlock cost, productivity, and innovation with open source on AWS.

Lowering costs in different ways

According to a recent industry survey, 95 percent of IT executives believe that open source software is important. Additionally, 77 percent expect to increase their use of open source over the next year. Nor is this mere talk: Up to 90 percent of modern software applications include open source components, according to a Sonatype analysis. Across the globe, organizations are “all in” on open source.

One key reason for this affinity for open source software is cost savings. Customers love that they can switch from expensive Oracle databases to open source PostgreSQL and immediately cut millions from their budget. One example is Globe Telecom, a large telecommunications provider in the Philippines. With AWS, Globe Telecom moved database workloads from Oracle to PostgreSQL, cutting $1 million in license fees while improving performance by 15X. Not bad.

Or consider Bhinneka.com, which turned to AWS to help it switch from Microsoft Windows to Linux. Launched 25 years ago, Bhinneka.com expanded its offline stores online to build Indonesia’s digital economy. The company connects businesses and governments by offering office products such as 3C products (Computers, Communications, Consumer Electronics), MRO (Maintenance, Repairs, and Operations), other solutions. With AWS, Bhinneka.Com shifted beyond being a box mover to a business ecosystem.

By embracing Linux on AWS, Bhinneka.com CTO Lodewijk Tanamal says that the company reduced costs by 30 percent. Bhinneka.com achieved these cost savings all while gaining a broader set of open source cloud applications and uptime of 99.98 percent.

Even when open source software can be downloaded for free, that doesn’t mean the ongoing cost of managing that software comes for free—or even cheaply. This is where substantial differences exist between the different cloud providers.

Getting more productive with open source software

Initially, developers turned to open source software to more conveniently get innovative (and free) software without needing to run a bureaucratic gauntlet of Legal, Purchasing, etc. Great software like the Linux operating system or the MySQL database was just a download away. With the launch of AWS in 2006, which included Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), developers were also relieved of the difficulty inherent in hardware procurement and provisioning. Suddenly they could run something like MySQL on AWS, which, as AWS distinguished engineer Matt Wilson says, “was built for running [open source].”

Yet they still had to manage that open source software themselves.

Well before other cloud providers launched, Amazon was migrating from UNIX to Linux, running more of its systems on open source databases, and generally building with and for open source. Hence, when AWS launched in 2006, we had years of experience optimizing open source software to run at scale. We were able to pass on that expertise to our customers with services like the launch of Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) in 2009, a year before any other cloud providers existed.

Since 2006, and most recently with our launch of the Amazon Managed Apache Cassandra Service (Amazon MCS), customers have asked us to alleviate the operational overhead associated with running popular open source software, leading us to launch a wide range of fully managed services like Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka (Amazon MSK), Amazon Aurora for MySQL and PostgreSQL, and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS).

Because of our experience running open source software, companies like Decisiv, an industry leader in cloud-based service relationship management (SRM), turn to AWS to manage their databases and more. For example, Decisiv consolidated multiple databases into a single Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL instance to better accommodate a growing volume of new customers. “We can move much faster using Amazon Aurora PostgreSQL. Our development productivity has doubled, so our developers can … roll out new features more often,” says Joshi. Amazon Aurora gives Decisiv the familiarity of open source PostgreSQL, with all the durability and availability of its SQL Server starting place, but at one-fourth the cost.

Innovating faster with a cloud fine-tuned for open source

It would be tempting to think such benefits are generic to any cloud provider. However, customers have been quick to highlight how AWS helps them to operate open source software to unlock more innovation than other clouds. For example, according to Bhinneka.com’s Tanamal, AWS exceeded Azure’s capabilities with regard to open source software. “AWS gave us better access than Microsoft Azure to cost-effective open source software that allowed us to drive innovation,” Tanamal says. Additionally, Tanamal says that using tools such as AWS Lambda accelerated development by 50%. This has freed up resources for developing new inventory-prediction applications and chatbots on the open source TensorFlow ML framework.

In other words, not only does AWS save them money by operating their open source infrastructure, other AWS services further improve Bhinneka.com’s operations so they can afford to invest in even more innovative open source technology.

Whether open source software or proprietary, AWS commits to helping our customers run it in the most productive manner possible. This means we increasingly release open source software to benefit our customers, even as we contribute to existing open source projects to help drive innovation.

More to come

Please continue to join me as I regularly highlight different companies as they move workloads onto AWS. As you do, I hope you’ll also ask the question, “What’s your plan for moving off Windows Server?” Or off Oracle? Or whatever old-guard technology keeps you from modernizing to better care for your customers?

Let AWS help you assess how your company can get the most out of cloud. Join all the AWS customers that trust us to run their most important applications in the best cloud. To have us create an assessment for your Oracle applications or all your applications, email us at WhatsYourModernizationPlan@amazon.com, and please consider joining the conversation using the #WhatsYourModernizationPlan hashtag.

To learn more on modernizing Windows Server or SQL Server, visit our Windows on AWS page.

 

Matt Asay

Matt Asay

Matt Asay (pronounced "Ay-see") has been involved in open source and all that it enables (cloud, machine learning, data infrastructure, mobile, etc.) for nearly two decades, working for a variety of open source companies and writing regularly for InfoWorld and TechRepublic. You can follow him on Twitter (@mjasay).