When I sent out my tweet on Saturday, I thought I would only receive a few DMs. I didn't expect my Twitter to explode with people asking to reveal how I received the AWS credits. So it has made more sense for me to do a blog article than it is to address all of you individually. So I'm going to try and layout some general advice here for the way that I got some AWS credits, $15,000 worth for SnapShooter.
Now to get a few things clear, I'm not an expert in this. This is something that I've talked to a few peers and mentors. And this is just my opinion, anything in this article that appears like a fact, is only an opinion and may or may not work.
The other thing to note is if you're after some credits to run your blog for the next year without paying this is not going to work. I know there are ways you can get AWS credits by doing surveys. This advice is more appropriate for startups.
AWS are a business, and with all the big providers they are looking for an ROI, they are placing a bet that by giving you some credits you will adopt their platform and continue to work with them.
I fear many of you are going to be disappointed by this article, based on the number of messages I received; there is no secret way to get massive amounts of credits. No get rich quick scheme; it takes a lot of communication with a rep, and you need to be honest. Try the startup credits and if applicable and try the proof of concept credits if you're exploring new tech or migrating. The beautify of proof of concept credits is they are not going away and can work multiple times.
I know less about this as its not the route I took; you can apply to activate, there are two packages; the founder’s program which will give $1k for two years with some support credits. Or if you’re in a startup accelerator etc. You can apply for up to $100k, but I imagine you would already know this.
Proof of concept credits
Proof of concept credits is used by providers to help get you to adopt their platform and works incredibly well with using a new service. At my last job, we managed to get some RDS credits simply by swapping my self hosted MySQL to RDS aurora!
Proof of concept credits work well for existing accounts, but can also work for fresh accounts like SnapShooter was (you will have to provide some more proof of expected spend).
Depending on your use case, I think POC can yield better results and can probably work well in tandem with Activate credits. There is also no limit to this, you can keep applying with new tech. For example, when you want to adopt new tech, the perfect time to get hold of your rep.
This is key; you need to find yourself a Rep, sometimes they will contact you if you start a new account; otherwise, you can get hold of support and let them know about yourself. At this point, I think it pays you to play the field and talk to all the prominent providers in tandem. They are fighting for your ops budget!.
So my story with a bit of background. I reached out to AWS and Google Cloud Compute at the beginning of summer because I was looking to expand the offering at SnapShooter. We'd been changing our backup system, and it became apparent that we should really be offering our own storage. And that's something that's going to be coming down the pipeline. It hasn't happened yet. And it made sense to get on the phone and talk to AWS and Google. For an idea of scale, we have about over a petabyte of DigitalOcean snapshots that we store for other people or on other people's behalf.
We, at the beginning of this year, we also launched our new backup system that wasn't provider snapshot-based. It was backup based off servers where customers were putting their own S3 storage to date we have taken 0.5PB worth. So it made sense to talk AWS if all customers were using SnapShooter storage that would be tens of thousands in fees. I'm going to refer to AWS here, but I would presume that their process is the same for all providers. My opinion, they're all seeking to get the right startups hooked or using their platforms, ready for, you know, betting that you're going to stick with them when your business grows.
How to talk to your Rep
Honesty is the best approach here; you need to talk to them about the scale of your business; they are going to want to hear about projections. They are going to ask hard questions.
I was clear at this stage; I don’t know how much adoption providing our own storage will have, maybe our customers like the bring your own for security reasons/GDPR. I explained how much we have done with DigitalOcean (100+PB) and how much our new backup system is doing since launch (0.5PB). They appreciated the honesty, and I could tell the rep was excited when I went through the business plan (or at least seemed to be). From a pure robot business process, they are placing a bet, get you on board and happy and spend with them forever.
From here we talked about credits and support because you don’t just get money, you also get support and experts. They love love love to get you on a call with a rep from each service, and I had a lovely hour-long chat with the S3 expert, and I learnt a ton, I also signed an NDA at this process and learnt about the S3 roadmap :D.
At this point you're rep will need to go and apply internally for the credits, If you ask for too much they will come back with the agreed figure.
An example use case
Just an example, but let's say you're an analytics company and you are wanting to move away from MySQL to using DynamoDB and Elasticsearch. It would be a perfect time to get on a call with an AWS, rep. They are going to love to listen to the story of how you out scaled MySQL and how you think a jump to other services is going to work. I would also bet they are more than happy to help support you with some experts and yes credits. This would work if you where an existing customer with pre existing billing, or looking to move from another provider.
So thank you for reading this article, and hopefully, you to get some AWS credits. I'd love to hear your success stories, and add them to this article. I'm hoping to publish more articles about growing SnapShooter, especially from the tech point of view. I got to a more comfortable stage now, we've released the new backup system where I think we're now an industry leader.
Time to get on coding this storage system!