The Cloud: Dipping instead of Diving


Today I wanted to write about a recent experience I had when I looked at investing further into the cloud and why I wanted to do so. I’ll be explaining how I’m not even spending a two digit sum a month and got a major benefit for my business.

DNS Server Woes:

My company’s domain name DNS records were being supplied by the same company I purchased my domain through. It did the job but it never felt like the right fit for us. Their TTL value was always 24 hours and you could only get it reduced for a week at a time. Furthermore their portal was extremely slow and prone to crashing so you were never confident that a setting would stick and hated the thought of mass updating DNS records as you’d be pencilling in a good hour of your life just to make 20-30 changes!

Why not On-Premise?

I had been considering on-premise for a while but felt that the infrastructure would be too fragile due to a close location of our offices, plus with different services hosted in different data centres (website, e-mail etc) it didn’t make sense to confine its availability to our own infrastructure. If both my buildings went down I’d lose any e-mails in that window of time for a start. As listed before, my attitude is if it relies on an internet connection to function then send it to the cloud!

Choosing the Right Cloud Vendor:

I was having a chat with a business partner the other week and we were discussing services such as Amazon’s Route 53. For those who haven’t heard of it here’s a link but in short it’s a highly available and customisable DNS cluster. I’d been pondering the idea for a while but with the bank holiday weekend coming up I thought I’d make the jump to one of these services and test my mileage.

Although I mention Amazon’s Route 53 I actually opted to use Google Cloud, for no real reason other than it actually looked user intuitive. When I started trying to get pricing for Amazon’s Route 53 straight away I was dropped into a giant shopping site full of different server options that I really wasn’t interested in, I’m not trying to process big data, just improve my DNS latency. Plus Google Cloud have a great 60 day trial on at the time of writing so I knew I could walk away if I wasn’t happy!

Day One Experience:

Your initial experience with a product definitely goes a long way in any recommendation and I felt confident the moment I’d signed into Google Cloud that I’d made the right choice. I was presented with a clean dashboard and given the option of many services that the Google Cloud can handle, I easily found my way into the DNS section and set up my sites, ten minutes later all my domains were configured and I was ready to rock!

I was impressed at how powerful their DNS options were without any input from me. Every time I added an additional zone I was given a cluster of four name servers that would be supporting that zone, I now have 20 name servers supporting my various domains, definitely not something I could replicate in my own infrastructure effectively!

Additional benefits that became immediately apparent was how low I could set and maintain my TTL values, paying only $0.20 per million DNS queries I felt confident I could run at a nice 5 minute TTL and if it did somehow start to get more expensive I could always up the TTL value. I finally had the ability to make knee-jerk reactions to service interruptions.

The thing that shocked me the most was how much of a difference the DNS latency was, our on-premise Exchange server has always had a slight delay in opening up the web interface and I felt that it was just a result of it sitting on traditional disks instead of SSD as we’ve got a 100Mbps leased line. I opened up my e-mail and in well under a second I was staring at my OWA page.

The Taste for the Cloud:

Having such a dramatic instant performance boost really sold me on the benefits that the cloud can bring to these services and I caught myself snooping around Google’s Cloud dashboard to see if there were any other benefits I could gain by investing further. It stands as a triumph to Google’s hands off marketing approach, they offer you a trial, you invest only a few minutes and you get an instant ROI with these quick wins, leaving you eager to get the next taste.

I’ll still be considering carefully any next steps I take into the cloud but it was certainly a success and most importantly instantaneous. With companies getting continuously more demanding and impatient I see Google’s Cloud options continuing to gain popularity due to its simplicity.

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