We are planning to host a small web app targeted to the computational genomics domain using a cloud hosting solution. I am interested to know how different are the development scenarios in terms of hosting a web application on a cloud host comparing to a normal host or an on-site server. Looking forward to hear the insights from those who have implemented/used cloud based bioinformatics applications.
Have you looked at Google App Engine? I think a simple calculation of how much throughput and cpu you expect to use and how much it would cost for off-site dedicated hosting (100-200 buck a month for a basic application) versus amazon is the easiest way to answer your question. On site hosting open a whole plethora of security issues and maintainability nightmares for that server. Also, some foresight as to on-demand scalability would be nice and would have you leaning to EC2 if this is needed.
One of the emerging platforms for cloud hosting is DotCloud. I tried their service and its pretty impressive how you can pull in various development tools (MySQL, PHP, Python, Rails etc) that you may need to host any web application.
In short, I found it to simplify the deployment process (once you have it all figured and developed locally). Being a very simplistic host of few steps for deployment, it may attract new developers to try their service. They also claim to allow further customisation and control over your deployed apps.
In summary, I will call DotCloud a glue. And a very efficient host at it too. It's a little far-fetched but I think they're truly game-changers in aspect of providing cloud hosting over the Amazon EC2 network itself. However, at the time of writing they are still in beta nevertheless it may be the best time to give them a try.
Although I have not yet used it, I have heard many good things about Amazon EC2. There was a recent paper that used BOWTIE to call SNPs in Amazon EC2. I went to a seminar for developers hosted by Amazon and they mentioned that it is SAS 70 compliant support and can obviously support HIPAA. They run many different types of OS and seem to have good customer service.
One thing to keep an eye out is that the CPUs are all virtual and what one gets is computational power that corresponds to say 20 CPUs rather than getting a system with 20 distinct CPUs.
We noticed this during benchmarking.
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