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Sleeping better at an Indonesian hotel chain

Zafar Anjum | July 3, 2013
Jules Brookfield, Vice President of Technology at Archipelago International, one of Indonesia’s fastest growing and most technically advanced hotel chains, describes the challenges faced in running their multiple websites.

I wasn't sleeping so well, constantly monitoring uptime and load time alerts. If some server or networking equipment broke we couldn't always get a replacement quickly, we'd end up running on some old crippled servers or even desktops or low quality networking equipment instead of servers or our security appliances while we waited for a new server or networking device. 

We also occasionally had issues with hard drives and equipment going out of stock, forcing us to buy products that were less ideal just to get by. Not to mention the taxes in Indonesia made importing anything really expensive. Even when you are getting a "free" replacement or a "demo unit to be returned" from a company, Indonesia will tax you on the perceived value of it, which often is 15 percent to 30 percent!

Why did you turn to AWS to find solutions to your problems? Did you look at other vendors?

Since my background is in software development, I've known about AWS for quite a while.  I was impressed by their products, their pricing philosophies, and their API first methodology. However, up to that point I hadn't given AWS a try for myself yet. It all started very organically and almost whimsically thanks to their very granular pay as you go model. I decided I wanted to play around with the Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3) one day, and then the Amazon CloudFront. I was so impressed by the infrastructure I started to consider not playing around with it anymore and really diving in with some of my production environments.

At that point I looked around and there really weren't many options, AWS was clearly the most mature and most sophisticated, but the next best options, such as Rackspace, didn't have data centres in Singapore. Having a data centre in Singapore was critical to me as most ISPs in Indonesia treat bandwidth to Singapore as "IIX - local", which generally is much cheaper and faster than "international" bandwidth, not to mention latencies to Singapore are obviously dramatically better than to Europe or the States, where most of the competition have their data centres. Without low latency, many of our internal applications would run too slowly to be accepted by our users.

As times goes on, I'm constantly looking at what other options are available on the market - just because I find it exciting to research the topic. Microsoft now has Azure, Google now has Google Compute Engine, GoGrid, Rackspace is getting better and better but still not in Singapore. I've also noticed there have been several Indonesian companies who claim to have "cloud services", but really most of what I've seen is just access to their VMWare in their data centre, not to mention, they don't have anywhere near the scale, maturity, redundancy, flexibility, expertise or features and it's more expensive than AWS!


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