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In 2006, Amazon debuted EC2. 15 years on, HashiCorp says firms blowing their cloud budgets is all part of the fun

Altered priorities ahead

Fifteen years ago, Amazon rolled out the public beta of its Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), ushering in a new era of cloud computing ... and overspending on clouds of every flavour, according to a Hashicorp report.

EC2 was a relatively simple concept. Applications ran on a virtual CPU, "the equivalent of a 1.7 GHz Xeon processor, 1.75 GB of RAM, 160 GB of local disk and 250 Mb/second of network bandwidth," Amazon's blog said at the time, and users could add or remove these resources as needed rather than forecast future needs and configure servers accordingly. It was ideal for bursty applications, or so the Bezos bunch said.

The Xen hypervisor sat behind the scenes and – again, this was 15 years ago – "you pay just 10 cents per clock hour." It would take until 2017 before per-second billing was brought in.

At launch, there was just one instance type, one region – US East – a limited set of Linux kernels, and storage lasted as long as the instance.

But things have moved on - with many other vendors muscling into the cloud game, and billing becoming a common bugbear.

While EC2 played a hugely important role in cloud adoption by the enterprise, the sticker shock suffered by consumers of all clouds remains. Almost 40 per cent of companies overspent on the awfully convenient cloud computing tech in the last year, according to a report from cloud services outfit HashiCorp.

39 per cent of more than 3,200 respondents in the study reckoned that 2020's budget had been blown. The bigger the budget, the more likely the company was to munch through it.

Unsurprisingly, big companies were big spenders. 34 per cent of large enterprises set a budget of at least $10m a year while 62 per cent of small business went for under $100k. Of those spanking between $2m and $10m on the cloud, almost half overspent (compared to 27 per cent of those budgeting until $100k).

"Notably," said HashiCorp, "some two-thirds of the overspenders said they expected to bust their budgets."

While COVID-19 was a factor in overspending, the bogeyman "Shifting Priorities" was cited as the largest factor for an overspend.

As Amazon unfurls the bunting for the anniversary of EC2's public debut, spare a thought for the bean-counters faced with dealing with the sometimes unexpected cost of all that convenience. ®

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