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Why we're leaving the cloud

The cloud excels at two ends of the spectrum, where only one end was ever relevant for us. The first end is when your application is so simple and low traffic that you really do save on complexity by starting with fully managed services. This is the shining path that Heroku forged, and the one that has since been paved by Render and others. It remains a fabulous way to get started when you have no customers, and it'll carry you quite far even once you start having some. (Then you'll later be faced with a Good Problem once the bills grow into the stratosphere as usage picks up, but that's a reasonable trade-off.)

The second is when your load is highly irregular. When you have wild swings or towering peaks in usage. When the baseline is a sliver of your largest needs. Or when you have no idea whether you need ten servers or a hundred. 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.

But neither of those two conditions apply to us today. They never did for Basecamp. Yet by continuing to operate in the cloud, we're paying an at times almost absurd premium for the possibility that it could. It's like paying a quarter of your house's value for earthquake insurance when you don't live anywhere near a fault line. Yeah, sure, if somehow a quake two states over opens the earth so wide it cracks your foundation, you might be happy to have it, but it doesn't feel proportional, does it?

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