Cloud Resellers: when third party solutions make sense

How to know when a cloud reseller is your best choice

A cloud reseller is a service provider who buys cloud computing products and services from major providers like AWS or Google, which they then resell to their own customers.
I’m going to describe the cloud reseller business model from a customer’s perspective, and then explore scenarios where hitching your horse to a reseller might make more sense than going directly to a tier one provider.
When I first discovered “the cloud” a few years ago, I was deeply involved in building websites. My instinct was to play around with it and see if I could launch a website in the cloud. My first impression left me with the sense that it was all a bit too complex for quickly launching a fairly simple website.
So searching around, I discovered Bitnami, which was a library of popular server applications and development environments that, with one click, can be installed on your laptop, virtual machine, or cloud host. Bitnami was just one example of many cloud resellers currently offering their services.
But because I have had first hand experience with them, I’ll use Bitnami as an example of a cloud reseller, looking at their business model and possible use-cases.

The cloud reseller business model

One of the most effective customer acquisition tricks is to give away a free product or service. Bitnami does this on two levels: without even signing up – even for Amazon Web Services – you can launch one of their free demo servers. That’s a great way to spend a few minutes playing around to get a feel for how it works.
When you’re ready to move to the next level, you simply create a new Bitnami account, enter your AWS account details into the Bitnami Cloud Hosting console, and launch a server. As long as you stick to a single Amazon Micro or Small instance – and your AWS account is still eligible for the first year free tier – this won’t cost you anything. And even if you do increase server capacity, as long as you’re on the Bitnami free plan, your only costs will be normal AWS charges.
However at some stage you probably will need additional servers or larger instances. I personally found running even a small WordPress installation a tad on the slow side. This is when you will need to opt for a paid Bitnami Business Plan.
reseller-hosting-cloud-platformI am neither endorsing nor criticizing this business model, but simply explaining how it all works. Every Company needs to make its money somehow. When I first got involved in the cloud, Bitnami proved to be a great way to quickly launch new products and have them up and running in no time.
However as I became a slightly more sophisticated user of AWS I found that this convenience was costing me a lot of extra money, so I turned to cheaper ways to deploy my applications.

Pros and Cons of using a cloud reseller

Bitnami is only one example of a cloud reseller. There are thousands more out there offering their own solutions and products. They could be focused on scaling, security, storage, applications, or platforms combining more than one service. For some people or organizations, these can provide the perfect solution. Just carefully consider the pros and cons before heading down this path.

Using a cloud reseller: some possible advantages:

  • Better security.*
  • Ease of deployment.
  • Quick applications and/or solutions deployments.
  • Less complex deployments.
  • Cheap Support.
  • Automatic Backups.
  • With one click, you can deploy any app or dev stack to any environment.
  • Apps and dev stacks have been pre-integrated and configured so that you can become productive immediately.

Using a cloud reseller: some possible disadvantages:

  • Worse security.*
  • Higher ongoing costs.
  • More complexity overall after initial deployment (this will depend on unique platform-specific factors).
  • More confusion for end users.
  • Less direct control.

I think if used wisely, these cloud computer resellers can offer a great alternative to existing cloud solutions. This is especially true for people and organisations lacking experience with a big cloud provider like AWS and unwilling to learn about them. However you need to keep a careful eye on your overall costs when using these services as they usually add another layer of complexity and consequently another layer of costs and billing.
* Some resellers allow you to share in their hard-earned expertise in security matters. Some will have none to share. Do your research.

Written by

Michael Sheehy

I have been UNIX/Linux System Administrator for the past 15 years and am slowly moving those skills into the AWS Cloud arena. I am passionate about AWS and Cloud Technologies and the exciting future that it promises to bring.

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