The HostCube advantage over EC2

Monday, June 2nd, 2008 8:43PM UTC

Amazon’s EC2 computing cloud, while potentially a great service, falls short of what most developers need when developing traditional Internet based applications. Since a few customers have asked what’s the advantage of using HostCube, I thought I would summarize in a blog posting:

  • EC2 pay as your go service, while cheap for low CPU/bandwidth usage, can get very costly compared to our fixed plans. With HostCube there are no surprises at the end of the month. Most of today’s Internet applications are CPU bound and EC2 can get very costly in this regard.
  • No hardware based load balancer, important for scaling or automatic fail over.
  • No persistent storage unless you use their S3 service. Shutdown or the node dies; your data and configuration settings are gone. Using S3 service your disk I/O traffic then becomes network bound and of course is an additional fee.
  • When compared to our managed VPSes, you must perform all of the system administration yourself. This IMHO is the biggest added value when comparing services. Our service already includes backups, monitoring, administration, patch management, security, and a control panel that makes many administration tasks a simple click. With EC2 you must be much more involved with the system administration.
  • Technical support with EC2 is an additional option. What’s not clear is how much support you really get. Can they assist and give recommendations on how to scale your site?
  • Odd instance sizes (1.7 GB of memory, 350GB of storage?) what is that? Computing is based upon the multiples of 2.
  • 32-bit by default. We, by default, use 64-bit which is 10-15% faster than the 32 bit version.  It appears you have to use the their Extra Large instance to get 64-bit.  This really becomes noticeable when you use more than 2GB of ram.  Not sure with Amazon but all of our nodes are using 64 bit based Xen.  The hypervisor is really where the performance matters.

In brief, EC2 is really geared towards batch based processing and processing services in low volume. If you need public service access (i.e. web service) and hassle-free administration HostCube is a perfect fit and a much better value.

While the HostCube service has some shortcomings, we are adding services like shared storage, quick (under 15 min.) provisioning and an API in the near future.


  1. On June 2nd, 2008 9:44+00:00 UTC Rob M says:

    One addendum… transfer between S3 and EC2 is free, so at least you don’t have to pay there. I wonder if anyone has tried to benchmark that network latency. I agree with the rest of the points. However, I’m still evaluating if S3 is the best choice for serving static content such as images and other media…

  2. On June 3rd, 2008 8:20+00:00 UTC lludwig says:

    @Rob M: Keep in mind S3 != CDN. Here is a blog entry with more info on it too:

    Thoughts on bandwidth and Amazon S3

    Also once we offer shared storage their service will become less useful

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