Should I use Amazon Web Services (AWS)?
If you don’t have already have an AWS account, now is the time to get one. New AWS accounts are eligible for one free year of running a micro EC2 instance. Specifically, it allows you to run one micro instance for 750 hours a month for 12 months. Will this allow you to run a website that gets 10,000 hits a day everyday? No. Will it allow you to test (and break) micro EC2 instances all day every day until you get the hang of using AWS? YES!
EC2, EC3… whatever it takes…
So what is EC2 and why would I want to use it? EC2 stands for “Elastic Compute Cloud” and, in general terms, is where you can take a virtualized server and run it in the Amazon Cloud. Amazon provides many virtulized servers (they call them “instances”) to choose from. If you are going to take advantage of the free tier of service you will need to look at the available micro instances. Anything larger than a micro instance you will be charged hourly for. There are instances available for Windows (server 2008 R2) and Linux (Redhat, Ubuntu, SUSE, etc). You do have the option of uploading and running your own instance… but that will require configuration to meet the definition of a “micro” instance and is out of scope for this post.
So what’s next?
This is the first of a series of posts on this topic. To get yourself ready for the next post (finding and starting an instance) go out to AWS and get your account setup. Go to http://aws.amazon.com/ and click the Sign Up button, as shown below. Feel free to examine some of the online documentation and familiarize yourself with the AWS console. In my next post we’ll walk through the console, open up EC2 and start that micro instance.