Amazon EC2 vs FireHost: What are the differences?
Developers describe Amazon EC2 as "Scalable, pay-as-you-go compute capacity in the cloud". Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. On the other hand, FireHost is detailed as "Secure cloud provider that reduces risk by putting security and compliance first". FireHost offers the most comprehensive fully managed cloud infrastructure-as-a-service available today, built specifically for the needs of companies governed by PCI and HIPAA compliance regulations. Some of the largest healthcare, payments and SaaS companies in the world subscribe to FireHost’s secure cloud to ensure their data is safe and always available.
Amazon EC2 and FireHost belong to "Cloud Hosting" category of the tech stack.
Some of the features offered by Amazon EC2 are:
- Elastic – Amazon EC2 enables you to increase or decrease capacity within minutes, not hours or days. You can commission one, hundreds or even thousands of server instances simultaneously.
- Completely Controlled – You have complete control of your instances. You have root access to each one, and you can interact with them as you would any machine.
- Flexible – You have the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. Amazon EC2 allows you to select a configuration of memory, CPU, instance storage, and the boot partition size that is optimal for your choice of operating system and application.
On the other hand, FireHost provides the following key features:
- FireHost’s HealthData Repository is a secure cloud built for HIPAA compliance that provides a safe haven for electronic healthcare records (EHR), electronic protected healthcare information (ePHI), and other sensitive data.
- Payment Island is a secure, PCI-compliant cloud that isolates critical data from the rest of an IT infrastructure and applies FireHost’s unique multilayered security to prevent devastating data breaches.
- FireHost’s secure cloud reduces risk by helping you protect data and exceed compliance. It is backed by FireHost’s security specialists and compliance experts. No other cloud provider has a chief security officer, chief information security officer, and a full-fledged security operations team protecting its customers in a secure cloud environment.
GCE is much more user friendly than EC2, though Amazon has come a very long way since the early days (pre-2010's). This can be seen in how easy it is to edit the storage attached to an instance in GCE: it's under the instance details and is edited inline. In AWS you have to click the instance > click the storage block device (new screen) > click the edit option (new modal) > resize the volume > confirm (new model) then wait a very long time. Google's is nearly instant.
- In both cases, the instance much be shut down.
There also the preference between "user burden-of-security" and automatic security: AWS goes for the former, GCE the latter.
Most bioinformatics shops nowadays are hosting on AWS or Azure, since they have HIPAA tiers and offer enterprise SLA contracts. Meanwhile Heroku hasn't historically supported HIPAA. Rackspace and Google Cloud would be other hosting providers we would consider, but we just don't get requests for them. So, we mostly focus on AWS and Azure support.
I chose DigitalOcean because their pricing is very fair. Their tech support is very quick to respond to any inquiries you may have. They also have a community of developer who are more then happy to help you with any non-account issues you may have.
The drawbacks of this decision are their managed services can be quite pricey at $15/mo extra for a MySQL database.
What is Amazon EC2?
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A VPS gives the full access that I need, because most of what I do has complex integrations and there is plenty of legacy - very stable, highly tuned code developed over two decades - that I carry with me. My use is also limited to during development, so there is no point going for a full server.
Amazon EC2 is a VPS, except it is cheaper.
Additionally, I used to previously take the code developed on my VPS and deploy it to whatever server the client brought.
With Amazon EC2 the deployment is already done. All that remains it to scale up, add other products like dns, mail, storage and so on, and change the billing so that the client gets invoiced. That makes the process that much more predictable and seamless, and the end result much more stable.
Just started using EC2 myself, but it was the platform used by my previous employer, as well. They are getting easier to use, dashboard improvements over time were well done. Responded fast to outages. They offer a limited free tier which is perfect for my current project, allowing me time to build it to the point where I will need a paid solution. Overall, I'm liking it so far.
About a year and a half ago (written June 2013) we moved from dedicated servers over to AWS. Thanks to AWS, we no longer have to think on a server level. Instead, we think of everything as a cluster of instances, and an instance is essentially a virtual server where we don’t have to worry about the hardware. It’s a relief to not have to worry about the hardware behind the instances.
The clusters we have are: WWW, API, Upload, HAProxy, HBase, MySQL, Memcached, Redis, and ElasticSearch, for an average total of 80 instances. Each cluster handles the job that its name describes, all working together for the common goal of giving you your daily (hourly?) dose of image entertainment.
Below is a diagram of how they all work together:
We liked a lot of things about Heroku. We loved the build packs, and we still in fact use Heroku build packs, but we were frustrated by lack of control about a lot of things. It’s nice to own the complete stack, or rather as far down as AWS goes. It gave us a lot of flexibility and functionality that we didn’t have before. We use a lot of Amazon technology.
I like containers and all, but for zerotoherojs.com I am a one-man band, who also works full time. I don’t have any (dev)ops budget, and therefore I need the reliability and uptime of an actual virtual machine.
That’s where AWS EC2 comes in handy.
Docker containers will be hosted and run on a single Amazon EC2 instance. This will likely be the t2.small or t2.medium instance type as listed here: https://aws.amazon.com/ec2/instance-types/