The Hidden Cost of Auto-Scaling E-Commerce in the Cloud

Cloud computing

Auto Scaling, for those who are not familiar with the term, is really the act of increasing capacity on demand. This can occur based on thresh holds and other input methods. For example: One could create a health monitor that under specific conditions launches a number of Virtual Machines and adds those Virtual Machines to the appropriate service-group once they pass the health check. So the question remains: What are the real costs with Auto-Scaling?

When designing a datacenter there are three solutions, which need to be found: The total amount of compute, storage and connectivity required. These solutions actually dictate, based on market capability, all the attributes of the datacenter. These root solutions in a traditional data center cascade into a series of other areas such as power and HVAC. The public cloud removes a lot of these problem domains for the customer. In the public cloud you still have to solve for compute, bandwidth and storage, however these calculations falls more to the budget owner versus the architect.

To illustrate the cost lets create a factious medium sized E-Commerce company called “MT Robotics, INC”. This company has their primary E-Commerce application hosted on a public cloud. Their infrastructure is composed of ten servers with a cost of $0.48/hr, 5TB worth of Storage with a cost of $500.00 per month and averaging 20 Mbps of outbound bandwidth with a cost of $0.09 per GB transferred. Their monthly cost is around $4512.59.

MT Robotics, Inc creates a new campaign where on the first Saturday every month for eight hours they permit their customers to interact with the creator of robots, ask questions and also purchase items with a twenty percent discount. For eight hours the system has to scale 10 times normal operations. Their monthly cost will increase from $4512.59 to $8404.51. The cost of spinning up systems is the build of the cost. The per-hour cost for this event is $556. So I know that you may be thinking ok so what, this is the cost of doing business and the math is straightforward. So what is the catch? SSL.

When Auto-Scale out is talked about, the assumption is the only cost that is incurred is the cost of the infrastructure that is being consumed. However, if you look at the fine print with vast majority of the of Certificate Authorities if you have only purchased a single certificate, you are violating the licensing agreements when you put your certificate on multiple host. Based on the information from a well know certificate authority the cost of Auto-Scaling would be roughly $1.6 million dollars. So how do you get around this cost? The answer may be part of your infrastructure already. The ADC allows one certificate to represent many servers, eliminating the need to purchase multiple licenses for your certificate, as well as providing traditional SSL Offload that accelerates and optimizes your backend servers. With SSL being done in software on virtual servers ADCs, dramatic improvements and cost savings can be realized.

Utilizing A10 Thunder based platforms can save money in these environments by using the latest generation SSL processors for massive performance. Beyond the benefits of advanced security features such as A10’s Web Application Firewall, which can help with PCI compliance; the Thunder platform can perform SSL offload, which can dramatically reduce the cost associated with Auto-Scaling.

Mike Thompson
October 10, 2013

About Mike Thompson

Mike is in the office of the CTO at A10 Networks. As principal architect for application delivery controller (ADC), cloud and security products, Mike is involved with research, development and strategy for the technology groups. He has spoken at DEFCON, Interop, NANOG, Internet Society and more. With an engineering career that spans 20 years, Mike is an authority on network design, application delivery, cloud architecture and security. A long-time proponent of open-source initiatives, his leadership and networking acumen have been trusted in many industries, including financial technology, service provider and the enterprise. READ MORE