Amazon AWS

I was initially intrigued by cloud computing when Amazon started supporting windows servers on their EC2 compute environment. I was excited about the possibility of having a lot of flexibility with Amazon’s services but also not having to deal wit…

I was initially intrigued by cloud computing when Amazon started supporting windows servers on their EC2 compute environment. I was excited about the possibility of having a lot of flexibility with Amazon’s services but also not having to deal with Linux all the time was appealing.  (Ironically, considering i chose slicehost and this blog is on ubuntu… this wasn’t as important as I originally had thought).  While the overall signup for AWS was easy, I was immediately presented with a lot of technical concepts I wasn’t familiar with. Published and private AMI’s, multiple directories of images, and really was lost for the first day as I tried to make sense of it all by reading the Amazon documentation.  I realized very quickly that this wasn’t going to be as easy as I had initially thought it would be.  Having a full time job that isn’t overly interested in looking at Amazon right now, this meant a large amount of time spent outside of work, something that made the wife less then happy.Luckily there are some really great 3rd party tools, and before I finally bailed on Amazon they did release their own control panel to help with the management of their cloud infrastructure.  However, their tools still pailed in comparison to the third party software.Rightscale-Rightscale made my life much easier immediately, instead of attempting to manage several key pairs (passwords are stored in encrypted key pairs, and API calls utilize these keys as well). Rightscale offered a web interface that easily handled the heavy lifting of dealing with the amazon API’s.  I was very easily able to figure out how to deploy an AMI for a linux host on rightscale, and their overall management capabilities were a welcome friend for this Windows guy. However, there was one issue since Amazon had just started supporting Windows, rightscale was just starting to develop their additional windows management tools.ElasticFox-ElasticFox is actually a plug in developed by Amazon to help you manage your Amazon instances, it was not as easy as Rightscale but overall provided a lot of value and following the directions at scripting.com I was able to easily setup my first windows instance on the Amazon’s cloud.  Luckily for all of you who are going to try this now, David Winer has created a very simple step by step guide that is very helpful. http://howto.opml.org/dave/ec2/I’m still no expert with the Amazon EC2, although I haven’t completely given up, the largest reason I chose not to use it for hosting the blog was cost.  $0.125 per hour for a small windows instance, doing some back of the paper math, if I assumed 31 days x 24 hours a day it came out to roughly $93.00 dollars + the data and storage costs. For these costs it didn’t make it economical for me to host my personal blog on amazon’s cloud and how I ended up checking out Slicehost for $20.00 dollars a month.  Ultimately, the $73.00 dollars it saves me per month is well worth the small extra hassle for dealing with ubuntu, which really isn’t all that bad, having dabbled long enough in the linux world I know my way around apache and Mysql.I’m not done with Amazon yet, but for hosting my personal blog, its not the right solution. I’ve seen several blog posts about the pricing for Amazon as well, and the use cases that it makes sense seem to be around either temporary processing compute needs or if your hosting a site that will end up on digg at any moment and your usage will go from 100 users to millions in a few hours. While I can dream that will happen with this blog, I’m going to be realistic and hedge my bet that its not the case, and the burstable capacity offered by Amazon just isn’t needed right now.

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