Case Study: Linode Beats Out AWS for Sensr.net

Startup chooses Linode over Amazon Web Services for its bandwidth-heavy cloud video monitoring service.

By Jude Chao | Posted Jan 7, 2014
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Numerous analysts, including IDC, predict strong continued growth for cloud computing in 2014 and beyond. And for the enterprise, the overall benefits of the cloud are almost beyond argument. Cloud computing offers flexibility and scalability beyond what many organizations can realistically expect out of on-prem data centers, as well as often significant cost savings. Price and mileage vary between different cloud providers, of course, as does performance. For cloud-based IP camera monitoring startup Sensr.net, the price, mileage, and performance of cloud host Linode proved just right.

The challenges

Sensr.net offers a cloud-based video monitoring platform that enables users to monitor, share, and store video feeds from their IP cameras. The company provides motion detection algorithms for more automated surveillance and can automatically alert users of activity in monitored areas. It also automatically stores the most recent 30 days of video for each customer, with still screen captures for quick review. And all this activity means a heavy incoming bandwidth load—70 million uploads per day, or about 2 TB daily, as Adam Beguelin, CEO of Sensr.net, told me.

The options and the solution

As Sensr.net grew, the company began looking for a hosting solution that would meet their scalability, reliability, and affordability needs. In 2008, they considered two providers: Amazon Web Services and Linode.

"Amazon was just not as familiar a platform," Beguelin said. His prior experience with Linux made Linode more attractive. "With Linode, it was much easier to create an instance immediately and log in and feel comfortable," he added.

Cost was another major factor. Sensr.net's algorithms can be "pretty view-intensive," Beguelin said, and the company found that they would get better performance for the price from Linode. Additionally, at the time, AWS charged for incoming bandwidth, while Linode did not, though as of 2011, AWS stopped charging for incoming bandwidth as well.

Ultimately, in 2009 Sensr.net chose to go with Linode.

The results

Several years on, Beguelin and Sensr.net remain satisfied with Linode's performance and support. Performance, Beguelin said, is "exceptional," in part due to Linode's six data centers—on each in Dallas, Fremont, Atlanta, and Newark, London, and Tokyo. "You can allocate servers for traffic based on location, which minimizes latency issues," he said. Additionally, he praised the intuitiveness of the Linode API and added that because Linode allows customers to choose which Linux distro to run, "we didn't have to learn a new programming environment. If you have a favorite version of Linux, you can use that, and because of this, we were able to simply carry on as usual." The scalable DNS service is another plus.

Linode's cost (or lack thereof) has also proven satisfactory for Sensr.net. Beguelin estimates that the company has saved at least three times the cost when compared to AWS. And that doesn't include additional costs that would be incurred on AWS when scaling up in size. As far as customer support goes, Beguelin called the responsiveness of Linode's support team "stunning. I'll file a ticket, and usually within minutes I've got a response. As a customer, I really appreciate that."

A look at the competition

Plenty of competition exists for Linode in the cloud computing and Infrastructure as a Service markets. The big names, of course, are AWS and Rackspace. Both these long-established providers offer a plethora of services and options—Sensr.net uses Amazon services for some storage, for example—but can overwhelm users, particularly those in smaller organizations and startups, with complicated pricing and configuration.

As far as simpler, lower-cost hosts go, one that has won significant press coverage in recent months is DigitalOcean, which promises exceptional ease of use and affordable, transparent pricing. When it comes to DigitalOcean and its ilk, Chris Aker, Linode's CEO, pointed out that Linode is "no spring chicken," having been in the business for over 10 years, with growing pains a thing of the past. Discussing recent DigitalOcean investment news, Aker said that "we're highly profitable, so we've got that type of investment coming in every month. We have a lot of momentum here, a lot of development, and that's going to be assured," as is the performance of their hardware and networking.

ENP editor Jude ChaoJude Chao is executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Follow her on Twitter @judechao.

Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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