Top 10 Reasons S3 Is Like Crack

A few years back I was responsible for a technical team that stored 3+ billion objects on S3. Our heavy usage was driven primarily by our use case, which was ideal for a highly distributed, reliable, and durable object store. We continuously found new and creative ways make use of S3, at one point being mentioned in TNW as one of the top users of S3. It was then I realized: hey, this service is like none I have ever used before.

So here are my top 10 reasons that S3 is the cloud’s equivalent of crack.

#10 - First Taste is Free

Like a good drug dealer, Amazon offers the first taste of S3 for free. AWS marketing can be summarized as: “Come on kid, try it, you’ll like it!”

#9 - Highly Addictive

It’s easy to start using S3. Before you know it, you have a few hundred objects. Soon these first objects become thousands, and thousands become millions. The simplicity, ease of use, and 99.999999999% durability strip customers of their storage self control. Just like big tobacco, I some day expect to see internal AWS documents revealing they purposely boosted durability and performance to increase the addictive potential of their service. ;)

Ironically, I think Glacier is exactly the opposite. It’s like the Scared Straight program for storage, with pricing and usage that is so complex, you have to really want to use it.

#8 - Storage Never Felt So Good

Let’s be honest: traditional storage... sucks. It requires large capital expenditures, heavy operational support, degrades / fails when you can least afford it, and becomes obsolete within a couple years of deployment. S3 is storage the way we always wanted storage to work.

#7 - Peer Pressure

With over a trillion objects in S3, everyone is using it. Why aren’t you?

#6 - Hard to Stop Once You Start

Something odd happens that most regular users of S3 don’t like to admit: you lose track of what you put into the service. You can say: no, not me. But after the first few million objects, it’s pretty hard to “manage” S3. S3 manages you. Want to leave? Sure, just find a an equivalent storage medium with similar price, durability, and availability, and take the one-time pain of migration. Oh, you can’t find a comparable service... so sorry.

#5 - Volume Discounts

If you are a heavy customer of S3, your dealer is more than happy to provide you discounts. He knows he has you where he wants you, so why not offer tiered pricing.

#4 - Never Sure Where Your Money Is Going

The S3 bill comes in every month, and it sure looks right. Yes, it’s 10% higher than the previous month, and yes the statements provides less detail than the FBI on the Todashev shooting in Florida. But it feels good and looks right, so what could be wrong?

#3 - Reseller Discount

If the habit gets really bad, you could always consider becoming a dealer. All you have to do is get your friends to try it. You know what happens next.

#2 - It’s a Gateway Service

I suspect there is a reason S3 was launched in 2006 and EC2 was launched a year later: S3 is the gateway drug to the rest of the AWS cloud services. Our dealer knows full well that S3 usage leads to EC2, and EC2 to RDS, and so on.

#1 - No Such Thing As Casual Use

When you first start, everything is under control: it’s just a few hundred objects, a few dollars per month. What’s the big deal? But then one day all the critical documents of your company are moving into S3, your personal media library has found its way into the service, and your blog is hosting its content on S3.

There is no such thing as casual use of S3.