Huy Le, Operations Director of DataRobot, talked to us about how the company has worked with Amazon Web Services. He also offers great advice for startups that are faced with choosing a hosting platform. DataRobot, a Techstars Cloud company, helps data scientists of all experience levels build and deploy better predictive models. AWS Startups is a sponsor of Techstars and helps startups scale quickly, go to market faster, control costs, and stay lean.
How did DataRobot discover and then choose to work with AWS?
We connected with AWS at Techstars Cloud Class of 2013 in San Antonio. We received hosting credits through the AWS Activate program, a free program with resources for startups to get the most out of AWS.
AWS was a natural choice for us. One of the products AWS offers caught our interest: their Spot Instance offering. Using Spot Instances is like bidding for a product on eBay. You choose the server type you want to use and set the highest price you’re willing to pay. If there are servers with prices at or below your set price, you use the server and pay the current market price. Most of the time, the market price is just a fraction of the regular on-demand price.
Our application does a lot of number crunching. With Spot Instances our application can do massive number crunching at a fraction of the usual cost.
AWS’s wide range of server types and sizes was attractive, too. We use servers as small as t1.micro, which cost about $15 per month to run; and servers as large as r3.8x, which cost over $2,000 per month to run. AWS has a server size for every kind of need.
How have DataRobot and AWS worked together?
AWS’ SPOT team and our account manager have been instrumental in us making the best use of AWS Spot Instances. The SPOT team visited our office to learn about our application and advised us how to get the most out of Spot Instances and keep costs low. Our account manager also analyzed our overall usage and suggested cost-saving strategies. Overall, we have really benefited from the advice and support AWS has provided.
What do you think sets AWS apart?
A customer-centric philosophy sets AWS apart. When the customers speak, they listen—and they act on customer feedback. They are about helping customers succeed.
For example, I once experienced database performance issues. I called my contact at AWS and asked if there were other options to get faster storage systems. He told me that he had many other customers requesting better storage systems too, and AWS was working to fulfill those customer demands. About six months later, my contact reached out with news that AWS had just announced a better storage system. I was thrilled.
Another thing that sets AWS apart is its ability to provide additional capacity as soon as it’s requested. At times, we’ve needed our capacity limit increased by thousands of servers. AWS has been able to do that on the same or next business day each time. I’ve made similar requests with other service providers. It would take those providers more than a week to fulfill the request, and then the request would be only partially fulfilled.
Do you have any advice for other founders who want to build good relationships with their platform/hosting providers?
In short, you want a service platform that is scalable and secure, and you want to have a provider who is ready to assist you whenever you need help. Here’s my advice:
Select the right service provider from the beginning. Don’t put this off until you’re ready for customers. Every service platform is different. You’ll want to work with the same platform from the beginning so you don’t waste your time learning new platforms as your needs change.
Security needs to be the top criterion. Choose a service provider that has granular access control to your cloud account, so that you can grant different levels of access to employees on an as-needed basis.
Choose a provider that offers three key features:
- A wide range of server selections. Start with a small server and scale up as needed. Test your product on different, larger servers as you gain more users and prepare for product launch.
- Autoscale support. Ideally, you want your platform to automatically scale as load demand fluctuates. For consumer or social applications, expect to have bursts of traffic.
- PCI compliance and hardware encryption support if your product will be handling payments. And make sure you meet the additional compliance requirements for your specific product. If you’ll be using health care data, for example, you want a server provider that is HIPAA compliant.
What’s currently going on in DataRobot’s world?
We have great success with our private beta customers. We’re working relentlessly to polish the product and are excited to release it at the beginning of 2015. Anyone working on predictive analytics who wants to build better models faster is invited to sign up for beta access at datarobot.com. (We’ll provide VIP access to early sign ups.)
You can read other stories in our Sponsorship in Action series here.
After tons of hard work and thousands of votes, we have our official top 15 teams for the Activate Circle Powered By Amazon Web Services!
These teams will move on to the formal judging round, in which they will be assessed based on set criteria by a panel of startup experts. Each team is now eligible to win some incredible prizes from Amazon Web Services, including $15,000 in AWS paid services, and more. Stay tuned for the announcement of the Activate Circle winner on December 16th.
Trips ‘N Tips | La Paz, Bolivia – A mobile app where travelers share their experiences, give and receive tips, ensuring that you have the trip of a lifetime.
X-History | Sendai, Japan – With X-history, you can find webpages you’re looking for by visualization and order of importance from your browser history.
AppNight | Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain – A smartphone application aimed at enhancing social relationships among nightlife venues customers.
APPartamelo.co | Barranquilla, Colombia – The easiest way to find an apartment.
ProjectedU | Newark, Delaware – An application for universities to target information to students in real time.
Fundstarter | Columbus, Ohio – A crowd funding platform for celebrities to raise funds for their respective charities. Allowing more organizations to do more good in the world.
RV Sherpa | Laguna Beach, California – A website which helps renters find RVs to rent at a great price. Also, adding over $100 million to the RV rental economy by accepting rental offers for unused or unrented RVs just like airbnb and priceline does for homes and hotel rooms.
MyBox | London, United Kingdom – Brings all your inboxes into one. It let’s you easily search, find, and share your messages from Facebook, Twitter, SMS, E-Mail and many more.
Griflens | Toronto, Ontario – An entertainment and educational platform that spans online and offline worlds by combining physical, collectible beads with online interactive storytelling.
Gymsight | Melbourne, Australia – An app which tracks your workouts, sending live data from gym exercise equipment to your mobile phone.
Optics4Africa | Accra, Ghana – Connecting Africa to the rest of the world through data.
Amble | Queensland, Australia – A budding social project that helps you create your perfect outing.
Tip It | Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Gathers people who appreciate good music and talented artists in an online environment. You can meet new talents in music, enjoy live and unique shows and contribute to the artist’s career.
Life Capsule | Toronto, Canada – A pill box that tweets. If you’re worried that you forget to take your medication or, more importantly, that a loved one needs a reminder to take their medication, you can use our mobile app to “program” the pill box.
Youtrace | Arrecife, Spain – The place were you can build your emotional biography and send it to the future to share it with the people you love.
A few weeks ago, we announced the 2013 edition of Global Startup Battle and we promised there would more amazing ways to win than ever before. We’re calling these ‘Circles’ (themed battles within GSB), and today we’re thrilled to introduce another.
Please welcome the Activate Circle powered by Amazon Web Services to Global Startup Battle!
Every team that uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) during the Global Startup Battle will be eligible to compete for the Activate Circle prizes. They are pretty sweet, and we definitely recommend finding a creative way to use a range of AWS products and services as part of your team over the weekend. (Qualifying list below in ‘Judging Criteria’)
- $15,000 USD in credit from AWS for Paid Services (other than Amazon FPS, reserved instances or support services) to be used within 2 years from the date of award; and
- 5 Dedicated Tweets from @AWSStartupsInclusion in one blog post on the AWS Blog (aws.typepad.com)
- An AWS Swag Pack, consisting of an AWS T-Shirt, Stickers, Coffee Mug and Kindle Paperwhite
- $10,000 USD in credit from AWS for Paid Services (other than Amazon FPS or reserved instances or support services) to be used within 2 years from the date of award; and2 Dedicated Tweets from @AWSStartups
- An AWS Swag Pack, consisting of an AWS T-Shirt, Stickers, & Coffee Mug
- Inclusion in one blog post on the AWS Blog (aws.typepad.com)
- $5,000 USD in credit from AWS for Paid Services (other than Amazon FPS or reserved instances or support services) to be used within 2 years from the date of award; and
- 1 Dedicated Tweet from @AWSStartupsInclusion in one blog post on the AWS Blog (aws.typepad.com)
- An AWS Swag Pack, consisting of an AWS T-Shirt, Stickers, & Coffee Mug
Amazon Web Services is a proud Global Technology Sponsor of Startup Weekend. They provide startups with the tools needed to get up and running quickly at a low cost, allowing you to fail quickly and experiment often.
Prepare to win the Activate Circle from AWS by following the judging criteria below. As we get closer to November, every Circle will have a page at globalstartupbattle.co with all the details, official rules, and instructions on how to enter.
The Amazon Judging Panel will judge the qualified Entries using the following judging criteria:
- Implementation and integration of AWS Paid Services: Amazon Glacier, Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Elastic MapReduce, Amazon Flexible Payments Service (FPS), Amazon Mechanical Turk, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS), Amazon Simple Notification Service (SNS), Amazon Simple Email Service (SES), Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon Redshift, Amazon OpsWorks (collectively, the “Paid Services”)
- Originality and creativity
- Likelihood of long-term success and scalability
- Effectiveness in addressing a need in the marketplace.
- We reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to select fewer than 3 Prize Winners if we do not receive a minimum of 6 eligible and qualified Entries from such category.
Missed the announcement on the Champion’s Circle powered by Google for Entrepreneurs?
What is a ‘Circle’?
A Circle is a themed battle within Global Startup Battle. Based on different ways to qualify, GSB startup teams can enter one or more of the Circles our GSB partners are hosting. Every Circle has it’s own prizes, eligibility requirements, and judging criteria. This means more ways to win and more prizes than in previous years. It also means ALL teams will qualify for one or more of the themed Circle battle, even those not winning on the local level. With Circles, every single Startup Weekend team formed at every event during GSB will have a chance at startup glory! Stay tuned as we reveal all the Circles and how you can qualify for each.