my musings on technology

IT and The Cloud: AWS EC2

Posted by on Nov 30, 2010 in Musings | 1 comment

It’s Day #2 on my excellent cloud adventure and I decided to dive right on in and see if I could provision a Windows 2008 R2 Server running SQL Server.  Armed with my credit card and my account, I signed up and created my AWS profile.

I eagerly clicked the Launch Instance in the EC2 Console Dashboard, followed a few prompts and bingo, my AWS console informed me it was launching my Large Standard Windows instance!  A matter of minutes later, I had downloaded the preconfigured RDP connection file and was remote desktop’ed into my brand spanking new server.

The feeling was quite something – to be able to provision a Windows 2008 server running SQL Server literally within minutes was like nothing else.  Historically, this would have taken weeks to do if we needed to procure hardware and even with the hardware available, an install of 2008 Server alone is a time consuming job.

So I am ahead of schedule!  My biggest challenges were as follows:

1) Selecting the right sized instance

AWS have a number of different EC2 options all with different pricing plans.  $0.12 per hour doesn’t sound like a whole lot but I did run some numbers to help with my decision.  A Standard Large EC2 On Demand Instance would cost $4,555.20 per year to run while a Standard Small EC2 On Demand Instance would cost $1,138.80.

2) Allowing RDP access to the server

You have to permit port 3389 to your server to allow you to initiate a remote desktop connection and it took me a bit to find where to set that up.  Quite simply, I had to click the ‘Security Groups’ menu option from the main EC2 console.

3) Obtaining the Administrator password

In my haste to set up my account, I had saved my private key pair somewhere on my laptop and in order to decrypt the Windows Server administrator password I had to search around on my machine to find it.  Again, not a major challenge, but definitely slowed me down a bit in my haste to connect!

Other than those items, the set up was quite simple.  I had connected up to my new server and could browse the web, install services, configure databases and was ready to go!

When your EC2 instance is provisioned you are allocated 1 Internal and 1 External IP address (and DNS hostname).  One major questions I still have is around access to the machine via the internal network.  I understand how I can control access now via the Security Group to the external IP, but how does connectivity via the Internal network work?  I’m expecting the same way, but yet to test that out.

My plan is to spin up another EC2 instance to see how I can get those machine to communicate internally to avoid the external network bandwidth data charges.

I have to say so far I am extremely impressed with EC2 and how easy it is to provision and manage servers in that environment.  Next step is to look at how I would create a VPN tunnel from my corporate network to the EC2 environment.  Stay tuned!

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