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For a start-up, one of the most critical objectives is getting a product out that has sufficient features. There are always trade-offs. Avoiding vendor lock-in means that you can’t leverage vendor supplied code bases and services.

When I was designing the architecture for nderground I considered a number of platforms, including Digital Ocean, Linode, Google and AWS.

The only service that nderground uses from Google is GMail (e.g., support@nderground.net and admin@nderground.net).

I decided not to use Google services because Google doesn’t do customer support, at least outside of Google Ads. I read a number of horror stories written by startup engineers who had something go wrong with a Google service and could not get help.

In contrast, Amazon has made customer support and customer satisfaction a priority from the start.

I have been able to build a sophisticated, scalable social network by leveraging the Java ecosystem, Grails and Amazon Web Services. Without the ability to leverage this software, nderground would not exist. In the credits for nderground I note that I have built on the shoulders of giants.

Of course there are always tradeoffs. By leveraging DynamoDB, Elastic Beanstalk, Amazon’s Simple Email System, S3 Storage and other services, nderground is locked into AWS. But so far they have been a great vendor. They generously gave nderground start-up credit when the early system came on line and their support has been responsive (although not always correct in the solutions they have suggested).

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