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Souring on the Cloud

In most cases, IT looks at the cloud carefully, moves forward tentatively and -- if it likes what it sees -- adds more services as time moves along. Rare is the shop that slams the whole thing in reverse faster than a Hollywood stunt driver. But analytics vendor Mixpanel did just that, and blogged about its reasoning.

The company had high hopes for the cloud, buying into the promises of low cost and elasticity. However, theory and practice were two very different things. The company recently backed out of its Rackspace service, opting for a dedicated solution.

I recently wrapped up more than a month of research about how the WAN impacts cloud performance. Mixpanel had the same exact problem that I found: performance. More specifically, the variability and unpredictability of its application performance. Instead of blaming the WAN, Mixpanel thinks it has to do with the fact that the cloud datacenter is a shared environment. If another customer does something stupid, you also pay the price. The company also believes you can't duplicate in-house performance because cloud vendors buy lower-priced gear, not the best and fastest.

Today most important Mixpanel servers are dedicated, and the company couldn't be happier. "Since I started this migration, our traffic has grown more than ten-fold. At the same time, our infrastructure has gotten significantly faster, more reliable, and interestingly enough cheaper (at the per machine level). Most importantly, the amount of time I've spent fixing server issues late at night or on weekend has decreased to almost nothing," wrote a Mixpanel blogger.

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/06/2011 at 12:47 PM


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