Today I replaced a hard disc drive (HDD) in one of the office workstation’s RAID 10 arrays. Everything went as it should: the RAID controller told us a disc was knackered, we ordered a replacement, at a suitable time we powered the machine off and swapped the drive, and now the data is re-replicated and everything is hunky-dory. No data loss, minimal downtime, relatively low expense and everyone’s happy.
While I was doing this it struck me how as time has passed, I have had to deal with hardware issues less and less. This is without doubt a good thing. Dealing with an office workstation on a lazy Saturday is one thing, but dealing with mission critical hardware in a bleak datacentre in the middle of the night is quite another.
Ten years ago when launching my first startup Cloud Computing didn’t exist. Sure, you could lease a box and have someone else deal with all its issues, but that was super expensive and not something a fledgling startup could afford, especially with scale. So I used to specify, build and install my own hardware. As things grew, hardware failures, especially HDD failures, became a regular bind. If the average lifespan of a HDD is 60 months (5 years), then once you have 60 HDDs in service you can expect to be messing around in datacentres monthly. Now that ain’t fun.
Modern startups have a significant luxury in the form of Cloud Computing. Here at Kobas I’ve chosen Amazon’s AWS service. They take all the hassle of hardware maintenance out of our hands, and the sheer scale of their operation means they can offer this service at a fraction of the cost of traditional hardware and co-location fees.
Amazon Web Services is fantastic. We use its Route 53 DNS service. We serve our static assets and file uploads from its S3 service. Our databases run on its RDS instances where AWS even handles software updates for us. Our web and tools servers are EC2 instances, and we can configure more virtual servers to start up and take additional load when we get busy. So without lifting a finger, we know Kobas is always online and ready to serve you, whenever you need it.
All this was unthinkable ten years ago. My mind boggles as to where we’ll be in another ten years. I can’t wait!