Web company 37signals is moving its two main products off of the cloud, claiming that the move should dramatically cut costs.

Project management platform Basecamp and subscription-based email service Hey are migrating off of both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud.

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– Sebastian Moss

"We've seen all the cloud has to offer, and tried most of it," CTO and cofounder David Heinemeier Hansson said in a blog post.

"It's finally time to conclude: Renting computers is (mostly) a bad deal for medium-sized companies like ours with stable growth. The savings promised in reduced complexity never materialized. So we're making our plans to leave."

He explained that cloud makes sense when you have a simple application that benefits from a fully managed service, and works well when you have wild swings in usage - so that you can ramp up rapidly to meet demand.

"There's nothing like the cloud when that happens, like we learned when launching Hey, and suddenly 300,000 users signed up to try our service in three weeks instead of our forecast of 30,000 in six months," Hansson said.

"But neither of those two conditions apply to us today... Yet by continuing to operate in the cloud, we're paying an at times almost absurd premium for the possibility that it could."

With Hey, the company is paying more than half a million dollars per year for database (RDS) and search (ES) services from Amazon. "Do you know how many insanely beefy servers you could purchase on a budget of half a million dollars per year?" Hansson said.

As for the argument that the cloud makes things simpler, he claimed that while it helps in some areas, it makes others more complex. "I've yet to hear of organizations at our scale being able to materially shrink their operations team, just because they moved to the cloud," he said.

Hansson, who also pointed to AWS' huge profit margins to bolster his argument, added that hyperscale cloud growth was "downright tragic" as when a primary AWS region goes down, "seemingly half the Internet is offline along with it."

He called on others to not "let the entrenched cloud interests dazzle you into believing that running your own setup is too complicated. Everyone and their dog did it to get the Internet off the ground, and it's only gotten easier since."

DCD has contacted 37signals for more details on where it has moved its workloads to. "We rent managed cabs/power/network link in existing data centers," Hansson told DCD. "Not building our own. Not recommending that anyone would."

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