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Basecamp details 'obscene' $3.2 million bill that caused it to quit the cloud

Reckons Dell kit could have stretched that dollar further

David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO of 37Signals – which operates project management platform Basecamp and other products – has detailed the colossal cloud bills that saw the outfit quit the cloud in October 2022.

The CTO and creator of Ruby On Rails did all the sums and came up with an eye-watering cloud bill for $3,201,564 in 2022 – or $266,797 each month.

Plenty of that spend – $759,983 – went on compute, in the form of Amazon Web Services' EC2 and EKS services.

On Twitter, Hansson contrasted that cost with the spend needed to acquire servers packing 288 vCPUs and plenty more besides over three years.

Hansson was at pains to point out that even that bill was the result of a concerted effort to keep it low.

"Getting this massive spend down to just $3.2 million has taken a ton of work. The ops team runs a vigilant cost-inspection program, with monthly reporting and tracking, and we've entered into long-term agreements on Reserved Instances and committed usage, as part of a Private Pricing Agreement," he wrote. "This is a highly optimized budget."

But it's also a budget he thinks could be "dramatically cut" with a move to owned Dell hardware and managed hosting from an outfit called Deft.

Hansson revealed that the business's single biggest cloudy line item is $907,837.83 to store over eight petabytes of data in AWS's Simple Storage Service (S3).

"It's worth noting that this setup uses a dual-region replication strategy, so we're resilient against an entire AWS region disappearing, including all the availability zones," he added. He also pointed out that 37Signals spent $66,742 ($5,562/month) on AWS's CloudFront content delivery service to move the data out of the cloud.

The CTO didn't detail how, or if, using less cloud will let 37Signals achieve the same resilience it enjoys in AWS. But he promised to repeat the accounting exercise in public next year, to reveal how the enterprise saves money.

The Register has already set a reminder to check for this year's bill in early 2024. ®

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